Hudson Cenotaph to be rededicated this summer following a major upgrade
PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY
Michael Elliott sprinkles poppy seeds among the tulips on Beach Road.
As a kid growing up in Hudson, Michael Elliott never met his father until he was six years old. World War II was raging and his dad, Harold Elliott, a neurosurgeon, was away serving with the 1st Canadian Field Hospital for the duration, including landing with troops in Normandy three days following D-Day as part of a critical M.A.S.H.-style mobile unit.
Three of his uncles – one of whom was awarded the distinguished Military Cross and another who flew 93 bombing missions in a Lancaster over Germany – were also away fighting in the European campaign. And Elliott, 1st Vice-president of Hudson Legion Branch #115, has never forgotten them.
Which is why, for the past six years – and the last 18 months in particular – he has, in effect, spearheaded a one-man campaign to upgrade and landscape the Cenotaph outside the Legion and Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre on Beach Road while planning to add more commemorative plaques honouring those from throughout our region who have served in Korea, Afghanistan, and with Canada's Peacekeeping forces.
Said Elliott, in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal this week, “My reason for doing this is simple. Not only to honour my father and uncles but also all the young men and women who have left their homes here to put their lives on the line in times of war and conflict.”
To date, the immediate area around the Cenotaph – to be rededicated this summer in what is to be now known as Place Vimy – has been redesigned to allow for visibility from all sides and some 2,000 red tulip bulbs planted last fall with the help of Legion member John Dalgarno, and poppy seeds just sown.
In the coming weeks, 26 black posts linked with a 200-foot black chain will be erected around the Cenotaph, the only one of its kind in all of Vaudreuil-Soulanges County and recognized by the federal government as an official war memorial.
PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY
Michael Elliott and John Dalgarno position the first - but certainly not the last - post at the newly landscaped Cenotaph.
Funding for the $42,000 project stems from an initial federal grant of $22,000 confirmed last August, half received up front and the balance upon completion. Said Elliott, “We had applied for the full amount but were very pleased to receive what we did. And when the Minister of Veterans Affairs, The Honourable Kent Hehr, was here on Remembrance Day last November, he told us he was very impressed with our plans and so we decided to push the project ahead using local companies for the landscaping as much as possible and for excellent rates.”
With no financial support from the town, Elliott now plans to raise additional funding with the posts and chain fence. For $150, one can commission a post in memory of a Veteran or one's family with a metal cap recognizing the donation. And each link in the chain can be bought for just $2, all the money raised going directly to the Cenotaph campaign.
“This way, we hope to raise an additional $7000 and, of course, other donations would be most welcome,” said Elliott. “When the project is completed, it will be something that Hudson can be very proud of and no other town in Vaudreuil-Soulanges will have anything like it.”
A sentiment echoed by Rod Hodgson, Hudson Legion 2nd Vice-president and co-organizer together with Patrick Daunais of the sold-out D-Day luncheon.
“Rededicating the Hudson Cenotaph this year during Canada’s 150th Anniversary is very appropriate,” said Hodgson. “With new plaques added, we may add more names of those who served from this area and made the supreme sacrifice."
Added Hodgson, “The Cenotaph was originally built in 1946/47 by local stone masons, Lorne Graham and Lorne Lancaster, in memory of those who had been killed in both World Wars and they did it free of charge since they had been too old to serve. And I do believe they would be very proud of what we are accomplishing today.”
For further information or should you wish to contribute, contact Hudson Legion manager, Joan Hughes, at (450) 458-4882.