As we remember lives lost and valour served in war this Remembrance Day, 83-year-old Murray Crouse of Milton may be reflecting on some of the experiences he had as a veteran.
Recently, he recalled one such event at Bogaz Junction in Northern Cypress.
“It was barbaric really,” Crouse told LighthouseNOW, describing how an enemy brigade had snuck into the village and slaughtered all the villagers. It was just one of the many atrocities that Crouse witnessed in his 12 years as a service man.
Crouse joined the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR) in 1956 at the age of 17. He spent time training in Gagetown, New Brunswick and went on to become part of the Black Watch company for the next four or five years.
The company was stationed in Germany during the Cold War as a peacekeeping unit. Following a short return to Canada, it then headed to Cypress as a peacekeeping unit.
“We stood lookout in different locations, and it did get a little hairy once in a while, but everything turned out pretty good.”
Crouse retired from the military in 1968. He admits the transition to “normal” life wasn’t easy, but he found a way to make it work for him.
“You just have to put it behind you. It wasn’t really that bad. I put myself forward, went to trade school and went to work,” he said.
He earned his way as a boilermaker and a high-pressure welder for 25 years.
Now he stays pretty close to home in Milton. He is involved in Mersey Legion Branch where he has served in numerous capacities over the 58 years he has been a member.
Last year he received a Palm Leaf award, the highest award bestowed to a Legion member. Palm Leaf awards are given to Legion members whose activities and contributions are deemed to exceed the standard expected of a member.
Currently, he is the second vice-president and service officer. Remembrance Day remains an important time in his mind.
“I think very highly of the veterans who paid the supreme sacrifice for us,” he said, adding that the country would be a different place without the efforts of the many men and women who served in the military.
Remembrance Day ceremonies
He plans, as every year, to take part in the Liverpool Remembrance Day service on Nov. 11. This year’s main event will begin at 10:45 a.m. at the cenotaph at the Town Hall Arts & Cultural Centre on Main Street. Another service will be held at the Camp Norway Memorial at Queens County Museum beginning at noon.
Other ceremonies in Queens County on Nov. 11 will be held in Caledonia, Port Mouton, Greenfield and Milton at 10:45 a.m. as well. A ceremony was also held in Brooklyn Nov. 7 also at 10:45 a.m.
All ceremonies will be held outside and are open to the general public. Those wishing to attend are asked to wear a mask and maintain physical distancing.
In Lunenburg County, there are a few different approaches being taken.
In Bridgewater, it will look much like last year’s schedule. There will be no parade. The Legion will be closed and the public are discouraged from attending the ceremony at Veteran’s Memorial Park. The ceremony will be played live on the Bridgewater Legion’s Facebook page and on CKBW radio. Wreaths may be deposited before and after the event. There will be no school events, afternoon events or banquet due to COVID-19 protocols.
In Mahone Bay, the public is invited to attend the ceremonies beginning at about 10:45 a.m. at the cenotaph. There is no church service or luncheon at the Legion this year. Wreaths can be laid during the ceremonies.
In Chester Basin, out of concern for health and safety, members of the public are not invited to the live ceremony on Nov. 11. However, the event will be live-streamed on the Legion’s Facebook page. The Legion building will not be open this day. Wreaths may be placed at the cenotaph in advance of the ceremony.
The Chester Legion will also be having a service at the cenotaph this year. The public is invited to attend. Veterans and Legion members will be invited to the Legion hall following the service, however no luncheon will be served. Most wreaths will be laid prior to the service at 10:45 a.m., however, a few others will be laid during the service as well.
Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin