By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette —
Niagara University officials and faculty members stood in front of the bicentennial peace garden to honor veterans and dedicate a plaque to be placed in the site.
The officials stood to the side of the covered plaque as wind-driven leaves rustled on the brick pathway and called for the crowd of about 20 soldiers, faculty, students and members of the press to remember the veterans that have fought for both the United States and Canada.
Tom Chambers, the chair of the History Department at NU and a member of the Niagara 1812 Legacy Council, said that, particularly in the Niagara region, it is important to remember both the history of war between the U.S. and Canada and the longstanding peace between the two countries that has lasted for 200 years.
"We're trying to honor the cooperation of the two countries as much as anything else," he said.
With the peace garden behind him, and Niagara Falls, Ont., in the background beyond the Niagara Gorge, Chambers led the group in a moment of silence after ROTC students serving as the Honor Guard performed the Posting of the Colors.
"Our second purpose is to honor veterans who served both in the War of 1812 and the subsequent wars, not just those who served, but also those who sacrificed and died in the service of their countries and to help make this 200 years of peace possible," Chambers said.
Arlene White, the executive director of the Binational Alliance, a not-for-profit that promotes cross-border economic development initiatives, said that the Peace Garden is one of 24 throughout the U.S. and Canada that make up the Peace Garden Trail, with more to be dedicated throughout the two year remembrance of the war. Her organization, which is the project lead for the garden trail, expects 60 gardens to be dedicated by the end of 2014.
"The best part of this project is that it started as a result of arts councils on both sides of the border asking what they could do that would engage other communities that would bring people from multi-ethnic backgrounds together," White said.
The gardens are meant to be a place for people to reflect on the strength of the partnership between the two countries.
"This is not so much to tell a war story but to tell a story of 200 years of peace," White said.
Lt. Col. Paul Dansereau, the chair of Niagara University's Military Science program, runs the university's 75 cadet ROTC program. He watched as three of those cadets performed their Honor Guard duties.
"There is a quiet professionalism in most veterans, which is something that I really admire," Dansereau said.
Dansereau, who has been deployed four times to Iraq or Afghanistan, said that celebrating Veterans Day has always been important in his family, as both his father and Grandfather are also Veterans.
Dansereau had one piece of advice for people celebrating Veterans Day.
"Thank a vet," Dansereau said.