With Nov. 11 approaching, not all veterans feel important
By Chantel Murrin
Remembrance Day is only one week away.
One person who will never forget it is Doug England. The Korean-war veteran suffers from hearing loss, caused by the hellacious sounds of battle. And, like so many veterans, he struggles with post-traumatic stress syndrome.
“I can’t relax. I can’t lie back and close my eyes,” said England. “I get this tension like something might explode.”
England joined the Newfoundland Militia before the province joined Confederation in 1949 when he was just 18 years old. When the war started in 1950, he transferred from the reserve to active duty, enlisting in the Royal Canadian Engineers.
Then, three years later, he went to Korea for what turned out to be the last year of the war.
The Korean War is often referred to as the forgotten war. The war was never won and never lost. It ended in 1953 with the stroke of a pen and the signing of a peace treaty.
It’s also something that’s never talked about, says England, which is why he decided to make a plaque in memory of the 516 Canadians who lost their lives in that war.
“I don’t know if they’re even remembered. But I remember them and not only on Nov. 11. I remember them all the time. Anything at all might come up and it brings them back in my mind,” he said, letting out a sigh.
The plaque has each name engraved and can be seen at the Royal Canadian Legion on Blackmarsh Road in St. John’s, which England has been a member of since 1960 before its current location even existed.
Colin Patey is the president of the branch and has been involved with the Royal Canadian Legion for most of his life. Both his parents were Second World War veterans.
“I always thought Remembrance Day, just the one day, that’s not (enough). I remember the whole year, but there’s nothing that can be done about that, I suppose.”
He says as a legion they try to do what they can for their veterans but often the financial resources are missing.
“These people put so much into the country, and we can’t give it back to them,” said Patey. “I’d like to see more given to these veterans and I don’t know what to do.”
England doesn’t think one day of remembrance each year is enough.
“I think it should be the whole year, not just one day, you know,” said England. “I always thought Remembrance Day, just the one day, that’s not (enough). I remember the whole year, but there’s nothing that can be done about that, I suppose.”
Veterans are unappreciated, and not just the ones who have seen action, says Patey. He believes all members of the Canadian Forces don’t get the recognition they deserve.
The camaraderie among young veterans today is lacking, he says, adding that in years past the legion was a place that brought veterans together and the forces were more of a way of life, rather than just a job.
“They have to realize they’re still important,” said Patey, suggesting that people need to understand the meaning behind the civic holiday. “It’s not only once or twice a year and even without the poppy on, you can still help out your veterans.”