Veteran resident at Meadow Park Chatham honoured with special quilt

A Meadow Park Chatham resident and Canadian Armed Forces veteran was honoured with a special quilt as part of a Remembrance Day service held at the Jarlette Health Services long-term care home last week.

Resident John Anderson was presented with the ornate blanket from the southwestern Ontario branch of Quilts of Valour Canada, a national organization dedicated to supporting Canadian veterans. The organization makes and presents quilts to veterans past and present.

An anonymous person nominated Anderson to receive the quilt, which he was proud to receive, says Lydia Swant, the Chatham-Kent long-term care home’s volunteer services co-ordinator.

Anderson served in the Royal Canadian Navy for 10 years – five years of active duty, five years in the reserves. He was honourably discharged after attaining the rank of leading seaman. 

Although he never saw combat, he was involved in some notable historic events – directly and indirectly. 

He was in the United Kingdom in June 1953 to attend Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, representing Canada as duty bugler on the HMCS Magnificent, which he says “was quite an honour.”

Anderson was sent a registered letter in April 1961 notifying him that he was on alert and could be immediately called for duty after 1,400 Cuban exiles sponsored by the United States attempted to invade the south coast of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.

The Bay of Pigs invasion failed and the fallout created tension between the U.S. and Cuba. A resolution between then-U.S. president John F. Kennedy and then-Cuban president Fidel Castro was reached, so Anderson was never deployed.

“Wartime was not in the cards for me,” Anderson says.

Now that Meadow Park Chatham has learned about Quilts of Valour, the home has nominated another veteran resident, Doug Stuart, who turned 100 in June.

“We are going to be having his Quilt of Valour coming up before the end of this year,” Swant says. 

Remembrance Day services have been a staple at Meadow Park Chatham for 25 years. The event is made possible each year with the help of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 465 in Merlin, Ont.

“It’s an important part of the culture of our home,” Swant says.