For the past eight years, Darren Longstaff has been creating a Remembrance Day memorial in the front yard of his home in Gibbons, Alta.
Longstaff served 25 years in the military, including a tour in Afghanistan, and is driven each year to pay tribute in his own ways.
“There’s just not a lot of emphasis on Remembrance Day,” Longstaff said. “One day of the year for recognizing veterans and those that have passed on in service of the country.
“It’s a really hard time of year for a lot of veterans, including myself. I just wanted to bring attention to the sacrifices our forefathers have made for more than just one day of the year.”
Each year, Longstaff puts up the display on Nov. 1 and takes it down on Nov. 12th.
Over the years he’s added to the display, which started with a simple cross and the words “Lest we Forget.”
“Then I added the four upturned rifles in memory of the four we lost in Afghanistan in 2002,” Longstaff said.
Two years ago he added a cenotaph.
Longstaff said he enjoys the comments from neighbours who stop to look at the tribute.
“It’s not an easy life but I wouldn’t trade it,” he said of his military career.
He also pays tribute by attending Remebrance Day services at the Royal Canadian Legion in Gibbons. And while he’s not sure what he’d change to encourage more people to recognize the contributions of soldiers, he’s happy to support efforts in his own way.
“It just shows that I don’t forget and I’m there for veterans.”
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