The Qualicum Beach Legion held a number of Remembrance Day ceremonies at local senior homes for those who can’t attend regular ceremonies in person this year and one veteran who is turning 100 was among those who received a special honour Tuesday.
Jack Coles has a special seat of honour this year for the Remembrance Day ceremony held at his home at The Gardens at Qualicum Beach. Normally he’d be attending an outdoor ceremony on Remembrance Day.
“I’ve been at every parade since I’ve been at the Gardens,” said Coles.
This year, in light of COVID-19, he was disappointed he wouldn’t be attending a ceremony on Nov. 11.
“That’s a good reason I suppose,” said Coles.
In the Second World War, Coles served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and he flew close to 50 missions.
Each year, the Qualicum Beach Legion holds ceremonies for veterans like Coles at seniors homes.
But COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges this year.
“This year’s totally different. We can’t mingle. We have to wear masks. We can’t go inside and this ceremony is probably just over an hour where we go inside and meet everybody. We can’t this year as you saw so it’s a very short ceremony,” said Ben Villeneuve, the acting president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76.
At this year’s ceremony, they wanted to especially honour veteran Coles who will be turning 100 next week.
Others watched the ceremony from inside the home and from nearby balconies the horns sound.
“Jack was there [and] fought in many campaigns, many battles and he’s here to talk about it. Him being 100. It’s outstanding to see he’s still as spry and happy and just so full of life at his age,” said Villeneuve.
“He walks everywhere and drives and still plays golf and probably better than me and he participates in all of our fitness classes so that’s probably one of his secrets,” said Shawn Dobson, recreation co-ordinator at The Gardens at Qualicum Beach.
And though Coles likes to remember the friends he made during the war as opposed to the friends he lost, he says people need to know there’s a huge cost to conflict.
“There’s nothing good about war. If you could get along without it it would be a lot better,” said Coles.
The legion says it’s important to honour members of the generation that built this country such as Coles.