RIVER HEBERT – To some, they are just names on a cenotaph, to others, they are heroes. To Jamie Heap, they are a part of our history.
The fallen veterans of the southern part of Cumberland County are the subject of Heap’s third book, Beyond the Cenotaph: Remembering the War Veterans of River Hebert, Joggins, Maccan, Parrsboro Shore and Springhill.”
It was during research for Heap’s previous book, History in Miniature, that the author said he took an interest in the cenotaph project.
“One of the models Bud (Johnston) did was of the River Hebert cenotaph right here,” explained Heap, pointing to the monument. “In the course of researching the names on the cenotaph, and plugging them into the Department of Veterans Affairs website, I realized a much bigger story could grow to places like Joggins, Maccan, Springhill and the Parrsboro Shoe as well.”
Heap said he was also inspired by a special Remembrance Day section printed in the Springhill Record last year, which listed all of the war dead on local cenotaphs.
He set about researching all of the names, gathering much of the information on the Veterans Affairs website, compiling information on about 200 veterans in total. It was a learning experience for the young teacher and writer.
The book also summarizes the events of the First World War, Second World War and Korean War, to help place the local names into the context of the time period during which they served.
Heap points out that the area has not lost any soldiers to battle since the Korean War more than 50 years ago. However, Remembrance Day activities throughout the region every year prove that those who paid the supreme sacrifice have not been forgotten.
“I know, in this area, when Remembrance Day rolls around every year there is always a big commemoration of that, and River Hebert Elementary School every year has a good-sized effort as well, so I knew there would be a market (for the book.) It’s also the first time I’ve written about anything beyond this area, like the Parrsboro Shore and Springhill, so I’m kind of excited to perhaps find another market as well.”
The book will be dedicated to the memory of Jordan Lake-McGrath and Bo Lattie, two Parrsboro-area young men who lost their lives tragically in separate motor vehicle accidents this past summer. As a substitute teacher, Heap said he got to know the friends pretty well during the past five years, and was very affected by their deaths.
“It was very tragic and sad to see two young men cut down before they had the chance to live,” he said. “Bo had just graduated and Jordan would have had enough courses to graduate by the end of January.”
The book will include a two-page dedication to the young men, and Heap said he would donate a portion of proceeds from the book to the Parrsboro Regional High School sports fund in memory of Lake-McGrath, and to MADD Canada in memory of Lattie.
Remembering war veterans is something that is becoming more and more important as the years go by, according to Heap.
“It’s important because more and more of these veterans are no longer with us,” he said. “Last year, Canada’s last First World War veteran passed away, and eventually all of our Second World War veterans and Korea veterans aren’t going to be here. So, this is a way they can be remembered and their families can remember, to look back at their relatives’ contributions to the war effort and how they served our country.”
Heap hopes to have several opportunities to launch the book in individual communities.
At this point, he is scheduled to hold a book signing/launch at the Parrsboro Community Radio station on Oct. 28 at 4:30 p.m.