"They shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them."
– Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
Recently, the town of Paris (Brant County) and Branch 29 of the Royal Canadian Legion have sought to memorialize names of the men and women who fell in the Great War and the Second World War on a plaque to be erected next to the Paris Cenotaph in 2018. In doing this, they reached out to the Great War Centenary Association of Brantford, Brant County and Six Nations. This task proves to be more difficult than it seems, as the records kept (specifically as it related to the Great War dead) were not exact nor complete and determining whose names to put on this plaque is not simple.
Yet, ultimately, this decision rests with the people of Paris.
We must remember those names, not only for the dead, but for the living and those whose families survived. Memorials, plaques and cenotaphs serve a larger purpose than honouring the war dead. They also recognize the sacrifices that survivors in the community had made.
All of this matters today because the residents of Paris and the surrounding area must decide if certain names ought to be added to the existing roll of honour.
As was true during the 1920s and 1930s, there is no official organization that will dictate the choices. It is a local matter, one which ought to be settled using informed judgement of the circumstances in each case, even if hard and fast rules are elusive, as they were years ago.
Whatever choices are made, today’s residents would do well to remember that these names will mean very little for generations to come if the narratives that belong to them are not preserved likewise.
We are proud to help with this initiative, but we need a collective effort from the public to make this a truly community-based act of remembrance. If you have any information, letters or photographs you wish to share, please contact the Paris Public Library or the Great War Centenary Association, and we will add them to our database.
For more information about this project, please visit the County of Brant Website.
In January 2018, there will be an open-house and Q&A session regarding this matter at the Brant County Council Chambers (in Paris) – More information to follow.
On the following post, we have compiled a list of names from our database who we suggest might be appropriate for this plaque.