When Sue Daniels-Ferrie awakened in the middle of the night about 14 months ago, she knew what she had to do.
She is a Sooke artist and longtime resident whose feelings about Remembrance Day are framed by the fact that her grandfather, husband, and son-in-law have all served in the military. Her son-in-law served in active duty in Afghanistan.
Following her late night epiphany, Daniels-Ferrie spent the ensuing 14 months hard at work, creating a series of 13 paintings and accompanying prose to highlight the horrors of war and to give honour to the fallen soldiers of the past.
“I suppose I’d been deeply moved and disturbed by something that had taken place a while earlier and it had stuck with me,” she explained.
The incident that moved Daniels-Ferrie to undertake her 14-month effort happened while she was in line at the grocery store.
“There were two men in line ahead of me and they were discussing how they didn’t understand why Remembrance Day couldn’t be set to be on a Monday so that they could make a long weekend out of it,” she said.
“They apparently had no idea of why Remembrance Day is held on Nov.11 or the historical significance of that date. It was as though the sacrifice of those tens of thousands of young men on the battlefield was secondary to having the chance to build a holiday.”
(Remembrance Day has been observed on Nov. 11 to mark the end of hostilities on that date in 1918 that marked the end of the First World War. Canada lost 55,000 men in that conflict.)
The paintings that Daniels-Ferrie created are poignant depictions of warfare and the sacrifice made by those who have died for their countries.
“I’ve shown them to some vets who have been very moved by the pictures and prose. A lot of them cry,” said Daniels-Ferrie.
On the issue of forgotten remembrance, Dave Whittier, the executive director of the B.C./Yukon Command of the Canadian Legion has his own thoughts.
“Remembrance Day isn’t about having a long weekend. It should be about the more than 100,000 Canadians who have died overseas expeditionary efforts and about those who have returned from fighting for their country and have been damaged in body and spirit,” said Whittier.
“There are some people who don’t get the idea, and that’s a shame, but on the most part, as I travel around the province, I still see a really good attitude and I think that most people understand what we’re doing and what the day is about.”
Whittier added that the Royal Canadian Legion raises about $2.5 million a year through its poppy campaign and that money is largely spent on supporting vets who have returned from conflicts and find themselves facing serious problems in their lives.
As for Daniels-Ferrie, she hopes her paintings and prose help to reinforce the need to remember those who have sacrificed for our freedom, our way of life and the inherent dignity and rights of people around the world.
The paintings will be on display at the Sooke Legion from Nov. 7 to 12.