Residents of Waterville, Kings County, are looking forward to honouring local veterans at a new monument this coming Remembrance Day.
Pastor Christina Bigelow, of the Waterville Baptist Church, began organizing the effort to erect a permanent monument three years ago. It will contain the names of over 300 men and women from the small Valley community who served in both the First World War and Second World War, as well as the Korean War and even the Vietnam War.
“As the minister in Waterville, I was so impressed by the number of names on the list of veterans from the community read in church every Remembrance Day,” she said in an interview.
“But I felt that didn’t go far enough. I felt each community should be challenged to put up a permanent monument to pay homage and give thanks to the men and women who served their community so we can live in freedom.”
In the past, Pastor Bigelow, who is a resident of Woodville, also spearheaded a community effort there to erect a monument to honour veterans from that community.
“Every community should have that place that has the list of names so your children can learn the history of your people from your community who served. They are their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, their fathers and mothers,” Pastor Bigelow said.
“We have a history. But we need to tell that history. And, I think these monuments are a way to do that for generations to come.”
Efforts to complete the project have included compiling a complete and accurate list of the veterans whose names will be inscribed on the monument, done with the help of local historians and a social media campaign.
The list includes several family connections. One example is Thomas Mahar, who served in the First World War, and his son Harold, who fought in the Second World War.
Bigelow said nearly half of the $26,000 needed to pay for the monument has come from the federal government, private donations from across Nova Scotia and even other provinces, as well as fundraising events. The land, located next to the community post office, was generously donated by Marsha McGill and placed under the ownership of the community through Cornwallis Square.
“I am so pleased and so proud that Waterville has seen fit to support this project. If we don't do this now, these names and the stories of those who served are going to be lost,” Bigelow said.
“It concerns me that names will be forgotten because we have so much to be thankful for. And because we are somewhat spoiled and do live in the land of milk and honey, we forget how it came to pass. We need to think more about the lives that were lost and the lives that were forever changed.”
Cathy Cooke is the co-chairwoman of the project committee. In an interview, she said she wanted the service of members of her family in the First and Second World Wars not to be forgotten.
“I don’t think the scarifies they or other people made should go unnoticed by our community. It needs to be recognized. Many have passed, so there are fewer of them over time. I felt they would be forgotten if our generation didn’t get on board and do something about it,” she said.
“I will feel honoured to be there this Remembrance Day.”