Candlelight Tribute for Veterans

By Richard Lawrence

On November 7, the Canadian War Museum again hosted the Candlelight Tribute for veterans, which was attended by over 350 people this year, including many veterans. Music was provided by the Canterbury High School Chamber Choir, which sang In Flanders Fields, and the Ottawa Police Chorus. Dignitaries present to lay wreaths included the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, LCol Richard Goodyear, Commandant of CFSU(O) [on behalf of the Canadian Armed Forces], Stephen Quick, Director General of the Canadian War Museum, and His Worship Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa. In this ceremony, after the laying of the wreaths, the lights are lowered while cadets and youth of Canada, in a procession, bring forward candles given to them by veterans to be placed along with the wreaths. The candles symbolize a line from the poem In Flanders Fields by LCol John McCrae: “… To you, from failing hands, we throw The Torch: be yours to hold it high ...”

After the candles were placed, the addresses by the dignitaries started with Mr. Quick, giving an emotional reading of a letter by a Sudbury high school student wishing to express her thanks to the veterans for what they have done and sacrificed. As with protocol, His Worship Mayor Watson proclaimed Veterans Weeks and presented the proclamation to Minister Hehr who returned the gesture by presenting a framed copy of the VAC Remembrance Week poster.

This was followed by the annual presentation of a commemorative street sign. Each year a street is named in honour of a veteran in a new development in conjunction with the City of Ottawa, Veterans Affairs, the Royal Canadian Legion, and local developers. This year Eric Maloney Way will be so named in Findlay Creek in memory of Cpl. Eric Maloney who, in the Second World War, was a member of the Royal Rifles of Canada (part of C Force) who, just prior to the war with Japan, was sent to defend Hong Kong. When Japan attacked on December 8, 1941, those soldiers stationed at Hong Kong became the first Canadian unit to experience combat in WWII. After 18 days of fierce battle, with no supplies left, they surrendered to the Japanese on Christmas Day and became prisoners of war for four years and eight months. Not all survived. After the war, Eric Maloney became a chef, working at one point on the DEW line in the Arctic. In 1987 he moved his family to Ottawa, where he continued as a chef at the faculty dining room at Carleton University until his retirement at aged 70. Eric Maloney passed away on March 11, 2015.

After a thank you address by the Maloney family and words by Minister Hehr, the ceremony was concluded and everyone retired to the upper lobby for a reception with music provided by the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces quintet.