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YARMOUTH WAR MEMORIAL UNVEILED
We have come here to do reverence to our dead. From time immemorial, nations have done this,
but it is a rite that repetition can never make common place. If it were not the nine years have passed
since the declaration of war, it might be better to come here in silence and depart without uttering a
word, for the thoughts in our hearts are deep, deep thoughts; and who is there, who could tell of them?
But in the intervening years many have reached manhood and womanhood, who in August 1914, were
not yet in their adolescence, and to them something must be said. The others here know something of
war; they have themselves gone, or they have given those whom they loved better than life itself, or
they have laboured unceasingly for their men at the front, and these things have left a memory which
they will carry with them to their very graves. But the men and women of today will tomorrow be the
guardians of our race, and it is their hearts I would of touched by the spirit of unselfish devotion and
patriotism we now commemorate.
Of what like these men whose names we find here? They were such youths as you are, standing as
you now stand on the threshold of opportunity, and with the whole enticing panorama of life spread
before their eager eyes. And what an enchanting vista life presents to youth? But for these men this
was but a vision of desire which was ever to remain unfulfilled. Harshly insistent struck the note of
war, and by a deep stirring within, each one knew that the call would be for him. And so they donned
the irksome equipment of war, gave up their personal liberty that we might be free, and with but one
longing, lingering look behind, bade goodbye to all they held most dear, and turned their faces to the
unknown. Then they endured all things bravely; the terrible hardships of war; things heard that man
should not hear; things seen that human eye should not look upon; and at last drank the bitter cup to
its very dregs. Think of it; the splendid unutterable pity of it! And let no heart be too worldly to be
touched, nor any eye too proud to shed a tear.
I love to think that though now the once wasted fields of France and Flanders have regained their
verdant beauty that the spirit of each of these men will come home to our more rugged shores to rest,
even to this shrine which you have erected here. It may well be that this spot, generations yet unborn
may learn the lessons of unselfish sacrifice. It is for you to see that they do.
Patriotism is the noblest of human tributes, and fortunately it is seldom that it is not planted in
the human breast, and has but to be nurtured that it may grow. Let it not be supposed that this can be
done without vigilant effort, nor that that which is neglected today will prove fertile tomorrow. He
who would say “I love my country” must be willing to die for it, knowing that life without liberty is a
curse. But also he must be willing to live for it, and to him whatsoever affects its welfare must be of
paramount interest and concern. The village, the town, the province are the nuclei of the nation and
he who has added one iota to their betterment is in very truth a patriot, and has been of service to
the commonwealth at large. All men cannot be great, but every man can be a patriot. Each one must
see that nothing in the communal life of the village is neglected that education is fostered in every
way; the civic affairs are never viewed with indifference; and that no one is ever chosen for public
office, whether municipal, provincial or federal, whose chief concern is not the public good. You cannot
realize too soon that this is your duty and happy privilege, the True Patriotism lies in such activities
and not in the waving of flags, nor in vain boasting.
Study our history and you will find that such are the doctrines which have made our race so great,
our heritage so matchless. This freedom to which you have fallen heir has been obtained at a great
price; the price of unselfish devotion and self-sacrifice; and if you in your turn would hand it on, it
demands the same from you.
“A War may not come in this generation, and let us pray that it come not in the next, but if it does
come, and once more the integrity of our Empire, and the sanctity of our homes be threatened by the
ruthless enemy, let us hope that the spirit of self-sacrifice will still be alive in our race, for then
history will but repeat itself. Surely it will be so. In times past, the example of one man or of one
woman has been enough to electrify a whole nation to fresh endeavor; and will not these, the dead of
this country, the dead of this province, the fifty thousand dead of Canada, the one million dead of the
British Empire, do as much for us?
“So when you pass this spot turn not aside without respectful salutation. Never let it be said of us
that we failed to do proper honor to our soldier dead; the defenders of our institutions and of our
liberties. Make of this bronze and stone a living token of eternal gratitude, that all may know that
such are the deeds you hold in reverence and honor. Soldiers, your countrymen salute you, and pledge
themselves that your memory and this shrine will be sacred to them forever”
The Cenotaph, located in front of the Yarmouth County Library, Main Street, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia,
unveiled on June 9, 1923, lists the names of 173 men and women from Yarmouth Town and County who lost their
lives during World War I.
Captain John F. Cahan, of Hebron, delivered the unveiling address. Still suffering from injuries which he
had received on the front, he was compelled while speaking to remain seated. His brief oration was delivered
with gripping forcefulness and was most impressive. It was a message to the living urging them to strive always
be patriotic and to be in readiness to serve their country in the time of need.
The Yarmouth War Memorial
Captain John F. Cahan