Local resident wants 2014 declared as Year of the Veteran in the Comox Valley
By Michael Briones, Comox Valley Echo June 21, 2013
local resident has volunteered to lead an effort to have 2014 declared as the Year of the Veteran in Courtenay and the Comox Valley.
Lewis Bartholomew, the founder and director of The Alberni Project, wrote to Mayor Larry Jangula of his idea and has invited the city to become involved.
He pointed out that as of today, there is still no national holiday honouring the country's veterans, who are still alive.
Remembrance Day, he explained, is a holiday that has been designated to recognize the Supreme Sacrifice.
"There's no day that has been set aside to honour those men and women and their families of today's wars and peacekeeping missions," Bartholomew wrote in his letter.
Next year will be the 70th anniversary of D Day, the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. It will also coincide with the sinking of HMCS Alberni.
Bartholomew is willing to spearhead a regional celebration for veterans next June 6.
"This is something that a yearlong campaign, complete with logo and events can be held locally which will not only be great for our local veterans, but also for the local economy and national attention on Courtenay and the Comox Valley rising to this occasion," he said.
Courtenay councillor Jon Ambler said that 2014 will also mark the 100th year anniversary of the start of the First World War and feels Bartholomew's plan would be a "worthwhile" project the city can look into.
Ambler asked staff whether the city has a policy on making declarations.
City's chief administrative officer David Allen was not able to give an immediate answer but would report back to council.
Counc. Doug Hillian considers the plan to be a big challenge for one community to undertake.
"I'm not sure why one community would do it apart from something perhaps a nation would do," Hillian asked. "Beyond that I don't have a problem with it."
Bartholomew aims to draw on the programs of other groups, associations and individuals that focus on Canadian veterans.
"I want to utilize their programs in one single event which puts focus on a less somber view of veterans, one in which veterans and their families are celebrated instead of mourned," Bartholomew said.
With combined efforts of CFB Comox, Royal Canadian Legions, local governments, and other groups like the Canadian Veterans advocacy, Bartholomew feels it will be seen as a good gesture to local veterans that the region is "paying attention and that we do honour them every day, not just on the dark day of November 11."
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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.