Veterans honoured for ultimate sacrifice

Community

PICTOU – The wind was cold as many struggled to lay their wreaths at the cenotaph in Pictou on Remembrance Day.

One wreath in particular stood out as a group of three  children and an older gentleman made their way to the cenotaph with assistance, at the end of the service.

The wreath was laid by James Hefler, 95-year-old Second World War veteran. He attends the service every year with his daughter, Rose Hefler.

He was bundled up in blankets in his wheelchair as he made his way to the cenotaph.

The wreath was placed in honour of a dear childhood friend he lost in the war.

“They grew up together,” explained Rose. “He died at the age of 23 in the war.”

“We bought a car together before we went off to war,” recalled Hefler, “an old Buick. We went to school together.”

Hefler joined the armed service in 1942 and was at the liberation of Holland and remained in the service for 25 years, until 1967.
The wreath he lays every year is in memory of his friend, Harry Roland Hamilton.

“He’s buried in Bretteville cemetery near Cannes, France,” he said.
There were many present at the service, to honour the fallen soldiers and remember those who live on, much like the service at the Northumberland Veteran’s Unit in Pictou.

There, veterans were entertained by George Durning and Lacey Morell-Pierre.

There was also a special presentation made by artist James Fraser of six portraits he drew of some of the residents of the Northumberland Veterans Unit, five of which were presented on Remembrance Day of Stan Porter, Jean Fraser, Jim Woodacre, Clem Guthro and Russell McKinnley.

Mike Simmons, pastor at the veterans’ unit, remarked that the two minutes of silence doesn’t seem to be enough.

“I sometimes wonder why we take those two minutes of silence just to go about our day afterward,” said Simmons. “Every day should be Remembrance Day.”

He went on to thank the veterans for their sacrifice. He also thanked the women who took up occupations and manual labour during the Second World War, whom without, the war may never have been won.

“When the call came at your young age … you gave your youth up so we could have the freedoms we have today.”


James Hefler, a 95-year-old veteran of the Second World War, laid a wreath, with help from family members, in honour of his fallen friend Harry Roland Hamilton. Hefler lays the wreath every year for his comrade. (Harvie photo)

Leave a Reply