A new billboard near the Cenotaph in Baie Verte was placed this week in honour of a fallen soldier who called that community home.
Private Justin Jones was a Baie Verte native who was killed in combat in Afghanistan in December of 2008. It was a tragedy that shook the community and area greatly, as Jones was very well known in the community through his involvement in various organizations.
Sid Newbury, President of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 54, Baie Verte, said they were honoured to be a part of ensuring the sign go up, and were pleased to assist the family in achieving the goal.
“We were approached with the idea, and immediately thought it was very fitting,” said Newbury. “We met with the family, and together we worked out a plan that would see the sign go up.”
Last Wednesday, an unveiling ceremony was held on the site of the new billboard, where the public had a chance to see it for the first time.
The ceremony started with comments from Newbury where he spoke about the young soldier’s influence on his community and peers.
“He was a fine young man,” he said afterwards. “He was a volunteer fireman, and worked with the youth of the community at the local youth centre. He was instrumental in getting the playground in the trailer court area, and also helped with the gazebo that has been used by many youth as well.”
Jones was a member of the 22nd Battalion who, along with the two other soldiers, was killed after an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on their armoured vehicle during a patrol in the Arghandab District of Afghanistan, approximately 14 kilometres west of Kandahar city.
Since then, he’s been remembered and honoured in many ways by his community and those who knew him, through things like legacy and scholarship funds. He was also part of the national “portraits of honour” tour which visited several communities across the country last year, displaying all those who were lost in battle during Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.
At the ceremony last Wednesday, Newbury said MHA Kevin Pollard and Baie Verte Mayor Gerry Burke also had words to say. In addition to that, members from Gagetown were also in attendance and had gave moving speeches fitting for the occasion.
The event was also sponsored by local businesses that contributed materials to ensure the billboard was built to last. Newbury says the sign will now be a permanent fixture in it’s current location for all who pass by the area to see.
“We want to do what we can to honour the sacrifice that was made,” he explained further. “Justin Jones and others like him, were willing to lay down their lives to do the work of their country.”
In the closing remarks of his speech, Newbury echoed a sentiment that is no doubt felt by many that were in attendance, and who live in the area.
“To us,” he said, “Justin Jones is our hero.”