Holding a clipboard and a pencil, Travis Boone stands with his family in the middle of the Bowmanville Cemetery on Wednesday morning.
“Bowen, Adams and Burrows,” he reads off the paper to his daughter, six-year-old Raegan. “Those are the ones that we didn’t find on our first way through.”
The pair, along with Lindsey, Raegan’s mother, and her brother, Mason, are on a mission to find all of the graves of those who served in the military.
Travis spots one he had been looking for, and says aloud, “Clare J. Allen.”
“Can we get a cross?” Lindsey asks her two children.
Mason, who is three, brings a white cross adorned with a poppy to the grave and places it in the soil. It reads, “We remember.”
Row by row, they plant these crosses in each grave belonging to a fallen veteran, an annual community tradition usually carried out by members of the Bowmanville, Ont., legion.
“We want to thank all of the veterans for… saving our lives,” said Raegan.
This year, the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, Lindsey connected with the legion to find out how she and her family could volunteer their time.
The legion paired Lindsey and her family with member Mel Elhassani to volunteer to place the crosses.
“It was fantastic… a very nice thing to do for the kids, for the family and for me, too,” Elhassani, a 12-year member of the Bowmanville Legion, said of the family helping him out.
Referring to members of the legion, he said, “We are dying out now. Now, the younger kids, if they get used to it… they can carry on the tradition.”
The Boone family’s gesture of honour means the world to veterans like Corneliu Chisu, who served in the military in the early 2000s.
“We are living in one of the best countries in the world to live and to raise a family,” said Chisu, who is a member of the Pickering, Ont., legion. “We need to maintain this [country] but we cannot maintain this [country] if you are not remembering the people who… sacrificed their lives for today’s country.”
“It’s important for the kids to understand that… freedom isn’t free,” said Lindsey. “People sacrificed a lot for them to be here today and for us to do the things that we can do today.”
Lindsey says she hopes her children will have vivid memories of volunteering as well as of what they learned about the veterans.
“We hope that they appreciate them, not only on Nov. 11 but throughout the year and for many years to come.”
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