New legion banner effort begins with image of fallen Bridgewater soldier


  • <p>SUBMITTED PHOTO</p><p>The banner featuring the image of the late Cpl. Paul James Davis of Bridgewater.</p>

BRIDGEWATER - The legion has introduced the image of Cpl. Paul James Davis on the first of its photo banners designed to bring more focus to armed forces veterans, including those like the Lunenburg County-born Davis who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The picture of Davis, who died in March 2006 during the Afghanistan mission, is on a King Street banner installed near Pijinuiskaq Park. This and other markers commemorating Remembrance Day remain in place until mid-November.

"I'd like to see King Street full of those banners," Wayne Thorburne, co-chairperson of the Bridgewater legion's poppy campaign, said of such signs with the images.

Thorburne said the idea came from his Shelburne County hometown where it's been an annual tradition. When the concept of using Davis's picture in the first banner, the fallen soldier's father didn't hesitate in agreeing to the gesture.

"It's nice the legion is doing that to honour Paul," Jim Davis said. "It makes me very proud of my son."

Paul Davis was serving with the 2nd Battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry when the armoured vehicle he was in collided with an Afghan taxi just a couple of months after he was deployed for a six-month tour. A second Canadian soldier also died in the crash and five other soldiers, plus a local interpreter, were hurt. A married father of two, Davis was just 28.

"He didn't die in vain," his dad said, "he died for a good cause." In terms of all who served, "we all need to be proud of them," he added, noting the banner in Bridgewater is "powerful."

Thorburne said he hopes future banners could host images of departed Second Word War veterans such as Ralph Hebb and Pierre Allaine but conversations would take place with, and require the blessing of, families of the soldiers.

"This year was a prototype to get one up but it's going to be bigger and better and we're reaching out to veterans' families that we know of (about who) we should see there," Thorburne noted.

The hope is there's enough interest and sponsors to keep the costs of such a venture to a minimum.

"I have so many names of so many people deserving," Thorburne added.

The legion promotes downtown banners to local businesses and individuals and funds from the campaign assists with providing support to veterans through the poppy fund. The highlighting of specific veterans' service to the nation is seen as a new and special effort.

"We must never forget; legions are about veterans and veterans' needs and wants and the respect they deserve," Thorburne said.

"Wouldn't it be awesome to (look) down (King Street) and see 15 to 20 banners up there next year."

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