CAPTION: Stones left near the plaque at the Welland-Crowland War Memorial, Chippawa Park./Photos by Joe Barkovich
By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
WELLAND – Went to visit Chippawa Park today. No. More specifically, went to visit the Welland-Crowland War Memorial.
It’s something I’ve done for years on this day. Too many to remember. By tradition, it is the day that Welland Branch 4, Royal Canadian Legion held its moving and impressive public service of remembrance at the striking granite memorial. For years and years, it was in Chippawa Park on the Sunday afternoon before Remembrance Day.
But there wasn’t one here this day. Nor will the increasingly-popular community observance, organized by local volunteers on Remembrance Day itself, be here this year. Blame COVID-19 and the restrictions we live with for this.
Still, tradition dictated that I pay a visit. It wouldn’t be the same without one.
It came later in the afternoon than it would have in other years. There were only a few people nearby, strollers and dog walkers for the most part. Fewer than a dozen, that was all.
The war memorial itself was deserted.
On this afternoon, it was always the centre of attention. Veterans, legion members, speakers, wreath presenters, cadets, members of the Bellerophon Band and members of the public all gathered on this hallowed ground with a single purpose, a single focus. Even after the service, visitors lingered and admired the monument. But today, there was none of this.
What there was, however, were stones. Painted stones. Memorial stones.
I’m guessing they were done by kids. Maybe they weren’t.
I leaned in closer for a better look. How sweet this tribute, how moving the gesture.
This small collection of stones, decorated with poppies, crosses and someone’s initials – perhaps a deceased vet’s – made my visit to the park, to the monument, memorable.
Small, painted stones but so much more, precious gifts from unknown hearts.
(Scribbler’s Column is an occasional feature on the blog.)