A small community in Clarington, Ont. is paying tribute to Canada’s veterans with the installation of collection of personalized banners, following the lead of other communities in the area and wider region.
Nine red and white banners now dot the main street of Tyrone, Ont., each displaying the name and picture of a veteran under the bolded heading, ‘Lest We Forget.’
One of those tributes hangs outside the historic Byam’s General Store, which is now closed. It features the shop’s former owner, F. Lionel Byam, who served in the First World War.
“I cried when they put the banners up,” said his granddaughter, Cecile Bowers, who sponsored the banner along with her brother.
They also contributed to a poster of their father, Walter Park, who she said fought and was badly injured in the Second World War.
The banners, installed by Royal Canadian Legion Branch 178, aim to put a face to the veterans of past wars. Bowers said that is especially important for young people, describing a recent experience with children outside her grandfather’s store.
“They looked at the banner, ran out and read the sign on the front of the store — which says ‘Byam’s General Store’ — and those kids learned something that day,” she said.
The effort follows similar tributes in Clarington, Ont., as well as in the wider region. Earlier in October, Ajax, Ont., debuted 25 banners honouring veterans and active service members.
“Yes, they’re heroes for this, but they’re more than heroes,” said Doug MacCheyne, who is on the banner committee of Branch 178, which serves the Clarington area. “More and more of them came back here and they created the society that we have today.”
Rory Gibbs and his two brothers sponsored three posters, one for their grandfather, Thomas H. Gibbs, who served in the First World War, as well as two for their mother and father, Margaret and John Gibbs, who met and married while serving in the Second World War.
“I think it really brings them to life again,” he said.
“We see so much strife and wars and everything going on around the world today and I really believe we need to honour these people.”
The banners are set to be displayed until just after Remembrance Day, with annual installation in the weeks leading up to Nov. 11.