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  • Writer's pictureWest Island News

Last Post Fund struggling to remain viable

Photo: West Island Today

The image was both striking and stirring: more than 22,600 colorful mini-flags adorned the graves at Pointe-Claire’s National Field of Honour, Canada's largest military cemetery for Canadian and Allied veterans and their immediate families. The cemetery grounds were impeccably maintained.

The occasion was a Sunday afternoon ceremony honoring Canada’s war dead, held shortly before the 80th anniversary of D-Day, which commemorates the Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy, marking the beginning of the end of World War II. More than a million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the war, which claimed the lives of over 45,000 Canadians and left more than 55,000 wounded.

Under a glorious but baking sun, a host of politicians and an ever-diminishing number of Second World War veterans were present. The guest of honor, Michel Miraillet, France’s ambassador to Canada, along with other dignitaries, paid tribute to the soldiers for their service. A military band played the French and Canadian national anthems, wreaths were solemnly laid, and a vintage artillery vehicle, which had landed in Normandy during the invasion, was on display. The serenity of the day was shattered by blasts from a howitzer, a harsh reminder of the sounds of war.

Among the veterans and family members attending the ceremony were former Canadian ambassadors Bob Peck and Peter MacArthur, whose fathers are buried at the cemetery. Lt.-Col. Robert Peck participated in the flotilla assault force during the Normandy landing at Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. Private Infantryman James Drennan MacArthur took part in the liberation of Italy 80 years ago and the Netherlands a year later.

The two friends are dismayed to learn that funding for the National Field of Honour is rapidly dwindling, putting its future in peril. The cemetery, owned and operated by the non-profit Last Post Fund, has been steadily accruing large year-end deficits.



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