The results of this work coupled with that of so may past and present serving military members, organizations, and individuals have brought Joseph Benjamin Noil's story not only alive again, but put it into the homes of literally millions.
This is very important to not only the extended Noil family of today, but to all who have stepped forward today, in days long gone, but also those of the future in both the United States and Canada. Men and women who have worn our uniforms and kept our homes and families safe.
We owe it to them to pledge continuing the following of these footsteps to identify unmarked markers, damaged or unreadable markers, and do something about it. In doing so we will be proving, rather than just talking, that we understand the debt we owe those who came before us, and we will show our gratitude.
In so doing we should also remember that so often the peace and enjoyment our families enjoy today did not arrive at our doorsteps through the end of a pen. They probably came through the end of a gun.
It was exactly a month ago today that Nova Scotia Hero Noil's new marker was unveiled. It took 134 years, so John Logan would not be very happy.
His name should come to mind tomorrow... Memorial Day in the US. But when created 149 years ago... Major General John A Logan was the President of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternity often mentioned in this space.
He continued with... We should guard the graves with sacred vigilance... let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic."
He would call the day... Decoration Day. That day is still alive, and falls tomorrow, though it has morphed from 30 May to the last Monday of the month and is now called Memorial Day.
And it is a day taken very seriously at many military and other cemeteries across the country.
In last week's blog I mentioned that not only where flags and wreaths placed at the foot of the new Noil Marker, but flags of both Canada and the United States were also presented to the Noil family with documents noting both were flown in honor of this navy hero.
A flag of Nova Scotia was also sent to Saint Elizabeth's by the provincial government. Letters were also forwarded for presentation by both the Honourable Tony Ince, NS's Minister of Communities, Culture and Heritage and the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs as well as from The Honourable Kent Hehr, the Canadian Federal Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.
Nova Scotia's Minister Ince, (also shown above) acknowledged Noil's heroism and ... makes me... as an African Nova Scotian extremely proud. Proud to say that Joseph Benjamin Noil came from NS... and that... to recognize his act of bravery with a Medal of Honor is of historical significance.
The story of Nova Scotia has more chapters to be written and in those chapters we must make every effort to educate ourselves. Educate ourselves about the contributions and sacrifices African Nova Scotians have made in Nova Scotia and abroad. I believe Benjamin Noil deserves to be included in those chapters.
These Ministers and other officials have been noted here, and in the last two blogs, thanking myself and others for the work done to bring this story to a new beginning. I too would like to add a few comments about a few of the many that have been of incredible help in moving this story forward.
The women here probably also helped with the sorting out of another veteran buried at the hospital for years under a marker identifying him, erroneously as being a Medal of Honor recipient. The hospital's incredible efforts over the past few years, coupled with some of the same group that worked on the Noil story finally got that matter also resolved.
To the right are shown Bill Sweeney, Maureen Jais-Mick and of course Rear Admiral William Truelove. Bill is a board member of the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the US and came from the Boston area I believe, to represent our society at the unveiling. Bill has been a member, as I, for many years and has done more than his part to help will society research and organizational matters. He has also helped in identifying lost graves and even placed a marker for one of the 6 Americans who earned the Victoria Cross.
Maureen has become one of my new DC buddies. She and I have exchanged hundreds of emails I am sure, over the past few months re the unveiling, and so much of the background work that brought us to that event. She has been most professional even though I had no doubt been a real pain in constant search of commitments re dates of events and certain aspects of the service that, under her very careful watch came off fabulously. And it is now part of US and Canadian history.
The Admiral's bringing word from the embassy was most appreciated, and as feedback coming my ways proves, did an excellent job with heart-wrenching comments about Nova Scotia and our hero, and Canadians in general serving in the US uniforms of today and the past.
Don Morfe and Gayle Alvaraz of the Medal of Honor Society also played instrumental roles in finding the grave, sharing in the research and exchanging information. So did Laura Jowdy at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society who has always been such a gem of information and so willing to share it with me and others searching the millions of questions associated with all these recipients.
The US Coast Guard, the Navy, the press and so many more played roles. You know who you are and I thank you.
Over the years I have tried to bring to the press the important roles these Canadians have played and have had many small successes. This Noil case has stunned me with the numbers of possible viewers and readers. And to each of you in the press, thanks ever so much and please keep in mind that there is so much more that can be done to keep these stories alive.
here it is...
see you next week,