Second World War veterans and their stories filled Pier 21 yesterday and Sunday.
The gathering was part of The Memory Project: Stories of the Second World War. Spearheaded by the Historica Dominion Institute, the project is a growing collection of memories and artifacts from Canadian veterans. The stories and digital versions of the memorabilia are available to the public online. The Memory Project has been conducting interviews in cities across the country all summer. Davida Aronovitch, a spokesperson for the project, says that they were overwhelmed with the turnout in Halifax.
Norman Purcell was one of the veterans eager to share his experiences with The Memory Project.
“Nowadays, the way the world is, a lot of young people don’t realize what’s going on in the world,” says Purcell, who regularly speaks to students of all ages about his time as a combat engineer. The Halifax native served as a member of the A company of the Regina Rifle Regiment and recalls being the only Nova Scotian on his platoon.
“We had a rough day on D-Day, but we made it. There were only about five of us left. I still say I’m no hero, I’m a survivor,” says Purcell.
Leonard Whiffen visits three or four schools in Halifax every November to share his experiences in the Second World War.
“It means a lot to me, but it means a lot to them as well. I think it’s very important that the children of today are told about these World War Two episodes,” says Whiffen.
Originally from Bonavista, N.L., Whiffen spent six years overseas with the Royal Navy.
The Memory Project has visited all 10 provinces and one territory so far, collecting over 1,500 stories in person and over the phone.