Bringing the valour home

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A call from a stranger in Ontario has The Pictou County Military Museum gathering money to bring home the valour of a local soldier.

The Canadian Memorial Cross of Private Robert Joseph Melanson of the Pictou Highlanders was found for auction on eBay by Dave Thomson of St. George, Ont.

Thomson is a regular on eBay and has made it a hobbyto find, research and reunite families and communities with valour that he finds of Canadian soldiers for sale online. The Canadian Memorial Cross is traditionally given to the widow and/or mother of a fallen soldier and is awarded if a soldier is killed in action.

“It appears as if they have asked me to bid on their behalf,” said Thomson when contacted by telephone, about the Pictou County Military Museum. “It will be a nice heirloom for them to have.”

Thomson regularly bids on items on behalf of community organizations or individuals to help the item return home.He asks that while bidding on behalf of the museum that no one else bid against him to ensure the price is not driven up for the museum.

Thomson is hoping the cross that is currently going for $81 won’t go too much higher to make it affordable for the museum. He has been reuniting valour for 12 years now and has returned almost 900 pieces of valour from auction blocks to communities.

“It’s a rewarding hobby,” he said. “Years from now it will be an interesting story as to how it was returned.”

David Avery of the Pictou County Military Museum was thrilled to receive the call from Thomson and jumped on the opportunity to bring the valour of Robert Joseph Melanson back to Pictou County. Melanson was originally from Westville and is buried in an unmarked grave in a Westville cemetery.

“It’s terrific,” said Avery. “(Thomson) has just taken it upon himself to make sure that these families get these medals back.”

Avery added that if the cross returns to Pictou County it will go to the Military Museum, however, if a member of Melanson’s family comes forward and wants the cross, will be theirs to have.

The museum currently doesn’t have any funds gathered to pay for the cross, but Avery said he has been speaking to the Westville Legion and they have shown an interest in helping.

“It’s such a short window,” said Avery about the auction that is set to end on Tuesday. He had only received word about the cross on Friday evening and has been trying to gather donations since.

Avery added that those who are looking to donate to the project can drop off donations to the Westville Legion on Sunday evening or can call Avery at (902)-396-3761 to arrange a donation. Donations will also be accepted after the auction ends on Tuesday as well.

Avery also reminds community members to not bid against Thomson to ensure the museum gets the cross.

“It’s such a small cross… that said what they represent is huge,” said Thomson. “The sacrifice paid for them was huge.”

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