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Every Remembrance Day, for as long as I can remember, I spent with my Dad. Whether it was at a Cenotaph, in an arena or auditorium, or beside a sickbed; I was with my Hero… my Dad at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. This year, I will stop at the appointed time and take pause with 2 minutes of silence & reflection to remember, but this year will be different. I will be on my own. I will be remembering my Dad.

Dad enlisted before he had turned 18 and fought in the 2nd World War and in Korea. He served in Canada, Britain, the Central Mediterranean Area, Northwest Europe and the Far East. I now cherish the medals and decorations he was the recipient of. His documents say they are the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Clasp and War Medal 1939-45, Korea Medal and United Nations Service Medal. He wore them proudly.He was a proud Veteran and taught me well what the day represented. He was a proud Father & Grandfather especially when accompanied by his sons & grandsons who also served our country.

THREE GENERATIONS

In his civilian life he continued to serve his Country & Community and received the Commemorative Medal marking the 125th anniversary of Confederation. He was also very active in his Legion for many years. In fact, many of our family celebrations took place at the Legion. Today I would like to share an article that my Dad wrote about the Legion in Niagara Falls, ON. It appeared in the Niagara Falls Review in a section called First Words.

LEGION HAS LONG HISTORY HERE By BILL GILLIES

The first veterans organization to form in Niagara Falls was known as The Great War Veterans Association. This group came together in 1917. Then in 1925 the many and diverse veterans organizations decided they would be more effective as a single group and The Royal Canadian Legion became a reality, as the Branch 51 indicates Niagara Falls Received the 50 first charter in Ontario.
The Royal Canadian Legion from its beginning was first and foremost about remembrance. The Legion conducts annual services of remembrance in our nations capital and in communities throughout Canada on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month. These services are in memory and to honour our comrades who made the supreme sacrifice for their country. Every year youth Remembrance Day essay, poster and poem contest are held with the winners, at the national level, being taken to Ottawa for the Nov. 11 service. The Silver Cross Mother representing mothers across Canada who lost sons and daughters during conflict in which our country was involved is sponsored by the Legion.
The first Legion building was on Roberts Street but the longtime home of Branch 51 remembered by many in Niagara was the white frame house on Victoria Ave. at Stamford Street, that was home from 1918 to 1971. In the beginning at our first home, support was provided mainly for veterans as many servicemen and women returning from the First World War suffering from war related illness and wounds were left on their own. It will be a surprise to many that 18 to 20 veterans at one time were housed and fed at Branch 51; there was no other help for our returning heroes.
Through the ensuing years a Second World War and the Korean War there was no shortage of service work on behalf of veterans but it was only a matter of time until we reached out to serve the community at large. In the past 10 years Branch 51 has donated $17,000 a year to the community plus donations from poppy funds and our ladies auxiliary.
A story about the Legion without prominent mention of our Ladies Auxiliary would be remiss; it is the ladies who prepare and serve the delicious dinners at all our social events.
In addition, the ladies have bake sales, fashion shows and craft shows to raise money that is returned to the Legion in millions of dollars annually. Then in their spare time the ladies hold euchre games and help at bingo, it is hard to find an activity at the Legion that they are not involved in. The ladies also offer student bursaries and scholarships from secondary school to university level as well as school of nursing and schools for the handicapped.
The Royal Canadian Legion community assistance goes to many diverse groups but perhaps our favourite has been the youth of our community. We are the major supporter of Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, Sea, Army and Air Cadets, as well support is given to YWCA Children’s Camp and Summer Playground, N.F. Summer Playground, Boys and Girls Club, Pee Wee Baseball and Hockey. The second most favoured recipient is our local hospital beginning in the 50s with an ice machine and continuing through the years with cash donations of $25,000 over a five-year period. Branch 51 has donated for such equipment as pre-natal monitors, endoscopy, cat scan, birthday beds and recently we furnished a palliative care room at GNGH.
Branch 51 is proud of our contribution to our country and our community we are not financed by any level of government and in fact have turned down the offer of financial assistance from government. We urge anyone that would like the pleasure of helping their community to consider Legion membership, the Legion have the facilities and structures that enable a member to make a difference in your community and your country.

I am sorry to say that I was unable to date this piece, but can tell you at the time of its writing the Legion was located on Valleyway. This was the only location I remember. I am also sorry to say that the building on Valleyway was sold. My Dad became a member in Port Dalhousie for his remaining years. However, there are still lots of healthy, thriving Legion Branches in the cities we all live in now. Like my Dad, I would encourage you to consider Legion membership and the opportunity to make a difference in your community.

Thank you Dad… for everything. I will remember.



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March 15th – My Dad entered “Hospice” care. Hospice care is an amazing thing. It is not a hospital, it is not palative care. It is caring and warm and loving and above all dignified. My undying gratitude goes out to our Hospice caregivers/workers.

March 17/18th – St. Patrick’s Day. My favourite day of the year.

I gave a “Good Bye” speech to a group of people that mean a great deal to me and who I admire immensely.

Received phone calls, messages and cards reminding me it was my birthday. Hmmm.

March 26th – Started judging Promax/BDA 2011 India. I love judging all the Promax/BDA competitions. It always amazes me the caliber of talent available all over the world. (I have to admit I had forgotten this was in the mix.)

March 30th – Started production on the most current issue of our book.
My Dad passed away.

March 31st – In Production
Continued judging the Promax/BDA Awards.

April 1st – In Production
Completed judging the Promax/BDA Awards

April 2nd – In Production.

Baby Ellee Rose had her 1st birthday party. Nothing feels better than holding a baby. Especially Ellee. It was a wonderful celebration of life and all that is good about it. The hope & promise of the future and what it will hold for this wonderful child. Ellee out did herself performing as she reveled in the cards, gifts and love showered on her. Oh, and cake. Did I mention the cake? She really enjoyed the cake.

Ellee is truly one of the great blessings in my life. Thank you Ashlee for bringing her into our lives.

I really like attending the Lacrosse games with my family. I have to admit this night I only attended so that I could scream out loud at the top of my lungs and know one would notice. Very therapeutic.

April 3rd – In Production.
The afternoon was spent at the funeral home visitation for my Dad. There was a wonderful turnout of friends and family to share their sympathies and support. I thank you all for being there.
The evening visitation started with a “Poppy Service” provided by the Veterans. What an amazing service. My Dad was a Veteran of  WWII and the Korean War. He would have been grinning ear to ear with pride watching my nephew (his grandson) and his wife, who are both currently serving our country, and my brothers who are also veterans, participate in this moving ceremony in their uniforms. We were all allowed to participate by placing poppies with my Dad. I can’t thank the Veterans enough for providing this honour for my Dad.


Of course, there was again a wonderful turnout of friends and family and I again thank you all for being there.

April 4th – Dad’s funeral. Bagpipes, tributes and more poppys. A celebration of the life of a man I loved and admired with all my heart. Along with many others, I will miss him more than I can say.
In Production.

April 5th – In Production.

April 6th – The final steps of Production.
Finished a large format print job that has been set aside this past week.
I was to attend the retirement party of my dear friend Line today. I had been looking forward to celebrating with this amazing woman as she moves on to the next exciting chapter in her life. I know you will forgive me for not being there, Line, and you know I love and admire you.
Final changes to book.
The book is finally uploaded to press.

April 7th & 8th – My gift to me.
I am closing the door, turning off the phone, turning off the computer and taking two days to be by myself to do what I need to do for me (I’m sure tears will be involved). No cause for alarm or worry. I just need to do this for me. I will see you in a bit.

It’s all good.

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Dad ended his battle with cancer on Wednesday March 30th, 2011. Surrounded by friends and loved ones.

William (Bill) Duncan Gillies

The following  arrangements have been made:

Visitation:

Date: Sunday April 3rd

Time: 2 – 4 pm & 7 – 9 pm

Location: Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel

Address: 5176 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 4E3

Phone: 905.354.5614


Funeral Service:

Date: Monday April 4th

Time: 11:00 am

Location: Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel

Address: 5176 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, ON L2E 4E3

Phone: 905.354.5614

Map:


Burial:

Date: Monday April 4th

Time: Immediately following the Funeral Service

Location: Fairview Cemetery

Address: Stanley Ave & Morrisnon St.,  Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2E8

Map:


Reception:

Date: Monday April 4th

Time: Immediately following Burial

Location: St. Andrew’s United Church, Auditorium

Address: 5645 Morrison St., Niagara Falls, ON L2E 2E8

Phone: 905.356.1624

Map:

St. Andrew’s United Church

Please feel free to leave us a message here or to sign the guest book at

Hetherington & Deans Funeral Chapel






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Today is the 11th day of the 11th month. At 11am I was with my Dad participating in Remembrance Day services. My Dad is my “Hero”. The following is a story he wrote years ago for the “Humour In Uniform” section of Readers Digest. I would like to share this with you. My copy is hand written and I will type it out without any editing.

17 Year Old William Duncan Gillies

17 Year Old William Duncan Gillies

It all began in 1939, a war erupted, I was underage when I enlisted (seventeen) so the first three months my duty was guarding the locks of the Welland Canal, then six months of basic training.  Training can become boring so I volunteered for the Pipes & Drums of the number two training depot stationed at Camp Borden.

This was an enjoyable time, we practised daily and took part in parades for War Bond Drives where the local residents fed & treated us royally.  When in camp the retreat ceremony was one of our duties this was an interesting and colorful performance that ended with the lowering of the flag to conclude the day.

During all the guarding, training, and parading I followed the progress of the war with great interest, in particular the exploits of the British Tank Corps and the German Panzer Divisions.  My interest was whetted to the point that I decided when I was old enough my service would be as an adventurous tank driver.

So it was in mid 1940 a notice was posted on the bulletin board the 11th C.A.R. (Ont. Tank Regt.) wanted volunteers.  At last my dream had come true.  I was in a tank troop.  Imagine my surprise when on my very first day the Sergeant said I could drive!  The troop assembled in groups of five (a tank crew).  Four men formed a square and the tank commander (a Sgt.) took his place in the center.  It was then my balloon was punctured.  The Sergeant turned to me and with a slight smile on his face ordered,

“Driver Advance!”

There were no tanks in Canada we trained on foot.

remembrance_day

Submitted by

 Wm. (Bill) Gillies

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