As the world changes, so too have our Remembrance Day ceremonies. Where as once there were hundreds of seats for World War II andKorean War veterans at services – but a few remain.
One local man aims to ensure the memories of those remaining are preserved eternally and that the sacrifices our countrymen have made to protect our freedoms are remembered.
Allan Cameron, executive director of Veterans’ Voice of Canada aims to ‘Keep History Alive’ and for the last 10 years he has travelledacross the country interviewing and recording the stories of nearly 1,000 veterans.
Cameron’s journey began on the shores of Nova Scotia. As a young boy he would listen to his uncle Perley Cameron tell of overseas warstories.
Following high school Cameron began his videography career at a local community news station.
“People tell me they remember me from a young age talking about wanting to document veterans,” recalls Cameron. “So apparently tha tdesire has always been there – getting into television was probably my subconscious giving me one of the tools I was going to need toultimately do what I wanted to do.”
It wasn’t long before Cameron began working for Global Halifax and eventually travelled the country for a number of years working as afreelance cameraman and producer for national broadcasters and video production companies.
In 2005, the day finally came he would hang his news hat and don a new cap titled documentarian and historian.
“I used to hear my uncle, who was a World War II veteran tell me it was time for him to tell his story and I missed the chance to documentmy Uncle Perley. With the rate we are losing our veterans I eventually just knew it was past due for me to start this,” he explained. “We arelosing them so fast and in such huge numbers – in 2005 I knew I needed to do this as more than a hobby,
“It’s important that it’s done – of those thousand, so many have passed on since I’ve interviewed them.”
He began travelling the country, listening to anyone who would tell their tale. By having them tell their stories and recording them,Cameron has compiled an extensive base of varying aspects from across the spectrum of perspectives that took place during World War II.
“History is so important and there are so many different perspectives of the War that need to be documented. It’s so important because if we don’t document it then it’s gone forever when they pass,” Cameron stated.
Following his interviews with each veteran, he provides each person’s family with a disc containing the unedited interview explaining hefeels it is important that families have the discs in their homes as a keepsake for future generations to understand the sacrifices theirfamily members made for freedom.
Currently he is working towards receiving grant funding to hire more editors to help him to trim 1,000 – often multiple hour long interviews – and make them more accessible to the public. Currently there are around 15 edited interviews available to the public atwww.vetvoicecan.org. However, Cameron hopes one day they will all be available online.
“Right now it just gives people a taste of what we do, but the whole idea is to get them online into a centralized library, get them into schools and have it used as a public education and accessibility tool,” he said. “My dream is that at some point Legions and schools willtake advantage of what we have and use them during Remembrance Day ceremonies because one day these videos will be all we have.”
Another aspect of Cameron’s work is the well known Flags of Remembrance tribute located alongside Highway 11. On Oct. 17th, 2015,Cameron and his team gathered alongside veterans and the community to raise 128 Canadian flags, representing the 128,000 Canadianveterans dead and missing in action.