By Vivian Collings
There was no reason for Kevin Dunlop, a Haliburton Home Hardware employee, to stop to think about a display idea for the front entrance of the store when he was tasked to decorate it for November.
He instantly knew that he needed to collect items from Haliburton Legion Branch 129 to create a Remembrance Day display.
“When it was my turn to do November, I asked [his employers], ‘I feel energy for this, can I do this project?’ and they said, ‘Yes, run with it,’” Dunlop said.
Dunlop’s exhibit far exceeded expectations.
The display features a wall of photographs of local veterans, a mannequin wearing a uniform and gas mask from the First World War, burlap to simulate a trench, and chairs around a hearth to represent the Home Front.
“With this side of the display, I was trying to say that families were at home, living a nice, warm, comfortable life, and then they heard on the radio that there was a storm brewing, far away. A storm of bullets,” Dunlop said. “Soldiers decided that they would get up out of their warm, comfortable home and go out into the cold and out into the dark as a team of heroes to push the bullies back.”
He also designed the left side of the display to be a place for those selling poppies for the poppy campaign to sit during their shift.
The response, he said, has been overwhelming.
“One soldier’s parents came in and couldn’t say enough.”
Derrick Moore, co-vice president and sergeant at arms for Royal Canadian Legion Branch 129, said the display has inspired members of the legion.
He said the photos of veterans make the display personal to Haliburton County.
“Most of these photos are of local people, and lots of people recognize them when they come in and would have stories of knowing these veterans,” Moore said.
Nick Bryant, a member of Haliburton Legion Branch 129 and Canadian military veteran who served 47 years as a weapons technician, also highlighted the importance of thinking of those who had to wait at home for their loved ones.
“I joined in 1969. I was a weapons technician and I served in Petawawa, London, I went to Cypress. I was in Germany for five years, of which I had a marvelous time, and then I went to Winnipeg and retired out of Ottawa and went to work for a national reserves council which supports the military,” Bryant said. “It’s a job, and it was a good job. It suited me. My mom? Not so much.”
He said most of his time in the military was peaceful, but that many others and their loved ones are not as lucky.
Importance of the Poppy Campaign
Bryant retired in 1995 and moved to Haliburton permanently shortly after.
“My wife had been coming up here since she was a little girl, and she brought me up here in 1985 and couldn’t get rid of me,” he laughed.
Bryant is now close with many other veterans in the area.
He volunteers for the Poppy Campaign in Haliburton each year, because he has seen how it helps those who served Canada in a military setting.
“All of the donations that we get from poppies go towards supporting veterans in the local area and in the extended area,” he said. “We have a lot of veterans that are struggling; physically, mentally, financially, and occasionally they come to us and are looking for help. Hopefully, we’re there to help them when they need it.”
He said over the years, the Poppy Campaign has been able to ease some of life’s difficulties for veterans.
The Poppy Campaign runs until Remembrance Day on Friday, Nov. 11.