Dedication to the memory of veterans deserves special recognition

It took two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the Royal Canadian Legion’s Upper Valley District finally officially thanked Jacksonville resident Sheila Sparks for her contribution to the memory of veterans.

At the Upper River Valley District Semi-Annual Meeting held Saturday, April 30 at Woodstock Legion Branch 11, District Commander Lena Levesque presented Sparks with a Certificate of Appreciation.

The award recognizes Sparks’ efforts over more than a year to restore more than 630 veterans’ headstones in 32 Woodstock-area cemeteries. Sparks launched her project in 2020, which marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The recognition for Upper River Valley comes less than a year after his efforts received a commendation from Veterans Affairs Canada.

In 2020, as she neared the end of her labor-intensive project, Sparks explained why she decided to clean, paint and replace the crosses on veterans’ graves.

“I can’t think of a better way for me, as a daughter, sister, aunt, niece, cousin and friend of many veterans, to commemorate this (date),” Sparks said. “What I did, I did myself out of respect for veterans and my appreciation for their sacrifices for our freedom. »

While some markers in other cemeteries remain to be done, Sparks’ recent health issues have reduced her mobility and required her to walk with a cane. She said she couldn’t go up and down easily anymore.

After presenting Sparks with her certificate of appreciation, Lévesque swore in Bonnie LeClerc as the new Upper Valley District Secretary.

Upper River Valley District President Ken Sercerchi used the ceremonies before the start of the district meeting to surprise Levesque, who is now in his third term as district commander, with his Past President medal. .

Someone agreeing to serve in the role for two terms is rare; agreeing to serve three times is unheard of, Sercerchi said.

Although she remains in office, he said, Lévesque need not wait for the recognition she deserves by presenting her with the medal.

Upper River Valley District Sergeant. at Arms Mac Paris of Perth-Andover accompanied the winners during the ceremony.

After the COVID-19 disruption, Sercerchi said those in attendance welcomed the long-awaited opportunity to return to in-person meetings.

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