The No. 2 Construction – Battalion 24th Commemoration Ceremony 2017
Pictou Waterfront- Saturday July 8, 2017
By Bridget C. Williams
This was an amazing historical momentous occasion which took place in Pictou County to hear the stories and struggles of the Black Solders No. 2 Battalion and how they stood 600 strong. The Keynote Speaker was Lieutenant Commander Paul A. Smith, CD, and Commanding Officer – Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Summerside.
The Ceremony opened with a Military Honoured Parade and the call to order by Craig Smith, President Black Cultural Society. The parade was a platitude of those who fought for and are still fighting for this Country. The town Crier George Dooley read the proclamation. O Canada and Lift Every Voice and Sing Til Earth and Heaven ring was played by the Stadacona Band. The act of remembrance for all to see, feel, and experience, the words were uttered as to what laid upon the shoulders of those who are still fighting; and who have fallen. The memorial list was read of the names of those who were casualties in the No. 2 Battalion. The honour roll of veterans who died in World War One (19) on active service names was read with the stillness of commemoration. There was a word of silence to pay tribute to those who have fallen. We will remember them was re-iterated by the audience and the surreal words of Lest We Forget.
The wreath presentation and the Black Soldiers Lament (written by George Borden) was an audio recording with the voice of Walter Borden over the auditorium you could feel dramatics which gave you a sense of what they had encountered through the overtones and undertones. It was about the struggle of the No. 2 Black Battalion 600 strong as they proved their worth. They dug the trenches and black blood was spilled, the sweat and toil had beat hundreds. They won the battle and peace restored it was as though you could feel and see this event in action. Those that fought were proud and unshamed with pride and dignity. Just imagine the scars they carried not just physically but mentally as well.
They stood strong even though the country and province made them feel otherwise through the words and action of betrayal and exclusion. Doug Ruck the son of Senator Calvin Ruck pronounced this with truth and conviction in his presentation. He knows the stories of his father Calvin Ruck and other who fought for this country along with George Borden. It is hoped that this story is put into the History of Canada not just the Province of Nova Scotia and taught into the school system. The Legacy Continues the story of the racism, discrimination and segregation over came by perseverance, dedication to our Nation.
Acknowledging the Brothers-in-Arms the three brothers all joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in the early 1950s Wilford Borden, George Borden, and Curtis Borden. The Veteran on No 2, Battalion George Downey served in the Second World War with the Veteran Guard of Canada. In 1916, Daniel H. Sutherland Lieutenant-Colonel was the Commanding Officer of the No. 2 Battalion. Captain William White was responsible for the welfare of the soldiers of No. 2 Battalion. Medical Officer, Captain Reverend Dan Murray, who served in the hospital for the No. 2 Battalion.
Lest We Forget, Lest We Forget, Lest We Forget.