Supporting the Royal Canadian Legion is something Harold ‘Timer’ Hyndman has been taking to heart for 75 years and counting.
Hyndman, a Second World War veteran living in Minnedosa, Man., is still an active member of the local legion in his home community of Rapid City, Man.
“The simple reason is to remember those who didn’t get home. And to the mothers and dads, they suffered lots because their sons or daughters didn’t get home. So it was a way of keeping the memory alive,” Hyndman said of joining the legion.
“The legion in Rapid City is a centerpiece for a very small town. We’re a population of 450 people, and that’s not counting the dogs,” he chuckled.
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Hyndman still takes part in Remembrance Day and legion events and speaks at local schools. He says we need to ensure the future generation never forgets.
“(The war) is something that actually happened. it’s not fictitious. It’s something that happened, and if you go back in history at the end of 1943 and 44, the world was at a balance, about a 50-50 chance because Hitler was super strong. And the pendulum turned in our favour,” Hyndman said.
Hyndman served overseas for about a year and a half at the tail end of World War Two, following in the steps of his older brothers; Orrie, Nyall, and Bob.
Orrie was tragically killed overseas in 1944. About two weeks later Hyndman, then 19-years-old, signed up to join his other two brothers overseas.
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He volunteered to join the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and arrived in Belgium in May 1945 just as the war was ending. But Hyndman stayed on for another year, working as part of the occupation army stationed in Germany.
He returned to Canada before he turned 21 years old.
“It was pretty wonderful to see my family, my parents, but it was kind of sad cause one brother didn’t make it home,” Hyndman said.
He briefly moved to Flin Flin, Man. to work a grocer’s store, before returning to his home community of Rapid City. He worked as a farmer briefly, before carving out a 40-plus year career as an auctioneer.
At the age of 97, Hyndman says the thing he is most grateful for is family, and the freedoms they have thanks to the sacrifices he and so many others made.
“Family is the most important thing in my life. My late wife, and my daughter and my son and their kids,” Hyndman said. “To have somebody that loves you, and I love a lot of people, but I love my family (the most). I think we’re very fortunate to live in Canada.”
Legions in need of support
After nearly three years of the pandemic and declining memberships, many legions across the country are continuing efforts to gain support and membership.
Ernie Tester, the president of the Manitoba Northwestern Ontario Provincial Command of the Royal Canadian Legion says, they’ve only seen a few legions close recently due to dwindling membership, but many are struggling.
“There are legions that are closing because of low membership, members are passing on and getting older, but not one branch had to close because of the pandemic,” Tester told Global News, adding the pandemic did present numerous challenges for legions due to the absence of in-person events and meetings.
“It is very concerning because the veterans gave us young members back 40 plus years ago a chance to become members of this great organization,” he said. “Now we do have a lot of young veterans, if we can get them involved.”
“I believe it’s up to us and younger people to keep legions going and respect the veterans.”
— With Files from Shane Gibson.
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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