For the last two years, around Remembrance Day, Stan Adamus places a Canadian flag and a poppy on all 35 veteran graves at St. Patrick’s cemetery in Lethbridge.
“All these people, men and women, gave their lives up for us so we could be free, so they deserve this recognition,” said Adamus, a restoration specialist and volunteer with the City Cemetery Services, who restores and maintains neglected and damaged headstones.
It’s a special act of remembrance.
“I go there and I talk to them, tell them: ‘I’m here to visit. I’m going to put my flag and a poppy here.’ I pay my respects and thank you so much; the odd time I’ll say a little prayer for the people too,” said Adamus.
He’s done this for nearly four years, spending 10 to 12 hours every day doing his work, but Adamus takes special care on the week leading up to Nov. 11.
“My dad was a vet, and he was captured and put into a concentration camp in Germany; how long he stayed there, I don’t know,” explained Adamus. “I wish I still had pictures from the past but he and all the people never talked about how they left those places; how they survived I don’t know, but they did — because I’m here.”
Through the pain of the past, his father continued to participate in veteran ceremonies, something Adamus carries on, making sure no one is forgotten.
“There’s grave sites that are 130 years old,” explained Adamus. “Are their relatives around? Possibly not. Maybe they didn’t have relatives, maybe they moved away.”
In the spring, one neglected and slumped-over veteran monument caught his eye.
He reads: “John Turcotte, 27 years old.” It struck a cord. “I was married at 21, divorced at 27. This kid came back in a pine box, dead.”
Using his cordless tools and environmentally friendly cleaner to remove years of built-up moss, Adamus can restore crumbled and damaged monuments.
“It’s gratifying for me, and I’m honoured to repair the monuments that I have for the people here,” said Adamus.
Every year, Canadians come together on Nov. 11 to pay respects to veterans.
Adamus hopes he inspires others to put in the effort year-round.
“It’s a matter of cleaning the stones, and maybe trimming a little grass, and visiting — maybe putting flowers so these vets are recognized the rest of the year not just on Remembrance Day.”
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