From left: Stefanie Richardson, Maureen Kormendy, Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295 president Krista Smith and veteran Jonathan Tremblay with dog Mia pose for a photo on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

From left: Stefanie Richardson, Maureen Kormendy, Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295 president Krista Smith and veteran Jonathan Tremblay with dog Mia pose for a photo on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Banners with 4 Chilliwack veterans pictured on them honour heroes of all wars

100 banners hung around town as part of ‘Streets of Valour’ project to pay tribute to local veterans

Solemn black-and-white portraits of local veterans can be seen on banners hung throughout Chilliwack as part of a project honouring veterans from not just the First and Second World Wars, but all conflicts.

The faces of four Chilliwack veterans have been printed on four different six-foot-long vertical banners as part of the Streets of Valour banner project: Piper James Cleland Richardson (First World War), warrant officer Bernie McNicholl (Second World War), Cpl. Bryan Kormendy (Balkans), and Sgt. Jonathan Tremblay (Afghanistan).

“The idea was very simple, to pay tribute to local veterans,” said Trevor McDonald, executive director with the Chilliwack Business Improvement Association (BIA) who was part of the veteran banners project.

Veteran Jonathan Tremblay (foreground) and dog Mia pose for a photo with family members of fellow veterans and others from left: Mayor Ken Popove, Stefanie Richardson, councillor Jason Lum, Maureen Kormendy, councillor Bud Mercer, and Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295 president Krista Smith on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Veteran Jonathan Tremblay (foreground) and dog Mia pose for a photo with family members of fellow veterans and others from left: Mayor Ken Popove, Stefanie Richardson, councillor Jason Lum, Maureen Kormendy, councillor Bud Mercer, and Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295 president Krista Smith on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Starting Nov. 3, crews started to install the 100 banners – 25 of each veteran – around the city.

Earlier that same day, people gathered at Veterans’ Memorial Park by the cenotaph where the banners were unveiled.

Veteran Sgt. Jonathan Tremblay unrolled one of the four banners revealing a photo of himself beside his dog Mia. Later, he was emotional as he spoke about the project.

“It’s amazing. I have no words,” he said as he choked back tears.

From left: Stefanie Richardson, Maureen Kormendy, Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295 president Krista Smith and veteran Jonathan Tremblay – with dog Mia – unveil banners on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

From left: Stefanie Richardson, Maureen Kormendy, Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295 president Krista Smith and veteran Jonathan Tremblay – with dog Mia – unveil banners on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

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The words “service and sacrifice” are written at the top of each red banner. They also include the veteran’s rank, and years and locations they served.

Family members of the two deceased veterans – Piper James Cleland Richardson and Cpl. Bryan Kormendy – were also there for the unveiling.

Maureen Kormendy said it was “very touching” to see her son’s portrait on the banner.

Cpl. Kormendy died on Aug. 8, 1995 at the age of 23 while training in Chilliwack for peacekeeping duties in the former Yugoslavia. He was in a Bison, a 13.5-tonne eight-wheel personnel carrier, with two other soldiers when it rolled over an embankment on Vedder Mountain.

“A lot wasn’t mentioned about the Balkans so it’s nice to see him recognized,” she said, adding that the banners “bring the today and the tomorrow together.”

Trevor McDonald shows Maureen Kormendy a banner with a picture of her late son on it during a veteran banner unveiling on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Trevor McDonald shows Maureen Kormendy a banner with a picture of her late son on it during a veteran banner unveiling on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Piper Richardson, a veteran from the oldest war pictured on the banners, was the great-uncle of Stefanie Richardson.

“It pulls at the heartstrings,” she said. “I lost my dad last year and this was a really big part of his life, a lot of his pride. It’s a cornerstone in our family that guides us to always do the right thing – above and beyond.”

Piper Richardson died during the First World War. It was on Oct. 8, 1916 during the Battle of the Somme where he strode back and forth on the field, playing his bagpipes and encouraging the troops forward. Later, with the help of another soldier, he attacked a position and took two enemy prisoners. While escorting them back to the line, he realized he had left his bagpipes behind. Richardson was last seen going back to retrieve them.

It’s learning about Piper Richardson and many other veterans — not just those pictured on the banners — that was one of the main goals of the project.

They will be up until Nov. 15, and in future years the plan is to install them on Oct. 15 where they’ll remain up for a month.

They were designed by Bon Graham and paid for with a grant from the City of Chilliwack, plus funds from the Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295, ANAVETS and the BIA. The team called on Tourism Chilliwack who helped out by ordering the banners.

Next year, they are hoping to have a QR code which will lead folks to a site where they can read more about the four Chilliwack veterans, plus several others.

The families of Richardson and Kormendy were each gifted a banner of their loved ones. Veterans Tremblay and McNicholl (who wasn’t able to attend the event) also received banners.

“What a great way to celebrate and honour our veterans,” McDonald said.

For more, go to sites.google.com/view/rcl295/veteran-banners.

— with files by Greg Knill and Robert Freeman

Veteran Jonathan Tremblay (foreground) and dog Mia pose for a photo with family members of fellow veterans and others from left: Mayor Ken Popove, Stefanie Richardson, councillor Jason Lum, Maureen Kormendy, councillor Bud Mercer, Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295 president Krista Smith, and BIA executive director Trevor McDonald on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Veteran Jonathan Tremblay (foreground) and dog Mia pose for a photo with family members of fellow veterans and others from left: Mayor Ken Popove, Stefanie Richardson, councillor Jason Lum, Maureen Kormendy, councillor Bud Mercer, Chilliwack-Vedder Legion Branch 295 president Krista Smith, and BIA executive director Trevor McDonald on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022 at Veterans’ Memorial Park in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)


 

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