A custodian of military history, David Crocker helped orchestrate a display of wartime artifacts for public viewing at the mall in Bridgewater, including several exhibits from a departed Second World War veteran from Conquerall Mills.
The collection includes dress uniforms donated by Gloria Cox, widower of the late Douglas Maxwell Cox, a navigator in ferry and bomber commands in the air force and a prisoner-of-war. Doug died in 2012 in Lunenburg at the age of 92. Gloria was presented a West Nova Scotia Regiment coin when the display was unveiled last month with a ribbon-cutting and ceremony inside LaHave Street's South Shore Centre.
Other materials in the vast exhibit include items from Crocker's late father who served in the navy.
Photographs, badges, binoculars, posters, newspapers, even medicine bottles also make up the collection of military memorabilia.
Crocker, a member of the Atlantic Canadian Red Ensign History Association, organized similar displays at schools, community centres and museums over the years. He approached mall owners about establishing a COVID-19 safe, educational and informative exhibit; a detailed display that would also yield more foot traffic to the mall and, potentially, benefit any financially-challenged businesses struggling through the pandemic.
The public may not realize the military took over Bridgewater's Big Ex grounds during the Second World War to train troops, noted Crocker, who is in the process of making a move to New Germany from the city. Before the COVID-19 pandemic shelved the South Shore Exhibition twice, wartime was the last time the major agricultural fair was postponed.
"For me, I just have a love for history, and it's blossomed," Crocker told LighthouseNOW during a phone call. "To be able to ... get out and hear these stories, getting to relay what their families did, and what the veterans did, [it shows] somebody cares, and somebody remembers, and is able to bring this stuff out and show it."
The South Shore Centre exhibit is available to see at least until the end of April.
Crocker said observing the efforts of the nation's military is something not isolated to a single time of the year.
"For me, Remembrance Day isn't just on Remembrance Day," he said.
"We should never forget what they did. We often take for granted the freedoms we have; a lot of people paid with their lives for the freedoms we enjoy. For me, it's important to remember my father and everyone else who served."