At our council meeting this past Tuesday, one of the important topics discussed was the proposed creation of Valour District. The proposed district would recognize our military history here in Kingston through the creation of new street signs with a red poppy, the symbol of remembrance, and the words ‘Valour District’. The signs would replace or be added to the signs in the proposed district stretching from the Kingston Armouries on Montreal Street to Fort Frontenac on Ontario Street.
The community engagement conducted by the city received both positive and negative feedback on the idea of creating the Valour District. In fact, the feedback was about 50% in favour and 50% opposed. I always keep an open mind and consider all perspectives and opinions before coming to a decision. But now, after having read the comments and considered the idea, I am firmly in favour of the creation of Valour District.
The tipping point for me was being a part of this week’s ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the departure of the 21st Battalion from Kingston. On May 5, 1915, three quarters of the entire population of Kingston lined the streets to say goodbye to young soldiers on their way to the battlefields of World War I. The Great War and the conflicts that followed are terrible events in world history. Commemorating such events is in no way to romanticize or glorify, but instead to pay tribute to those who fought and many who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the peace and prosperity we enjoy today.
The creation of Valour District is to honour the memory of young men and women who were willing to sacrifice their lives in order to serve our country, like those in the 21st Battalion. Even today, while we can disagree on the politics of military involvement in conflicts around the world, surely we can all agree that a soldier who accepts the order to risk their life in a war zone is demonstrating valour. It is this demonstration of valour that we recognize every November 11. And it is this demonstration of valour that we should recognize in Kingston through the creation of Valour District.