Local group to launch Heroes of Huron site - Nov. 16, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
After a successful campaign to bring Princess Margriet of the Netherlands to Huron County, the men behind Dutch Canadians Remember as One are looking to bring our cenotaphs into the new technological age.
Jim Rutledge, Sid Bruinsma and Patrick Nagle are now working hard on the second phase of their remembrance project, which is the Heroes of Huron website.
Rutledge began his work years ago when he penned the book The Men of Huron: A Book of Honour and Remembrance. As a history buff, Rutledge went looking for a book that chronicled the Huron County men who died fighting in World War II. When he was told it didn’t exist, he decided to write it.
Detailing those 205 names and providing pictures and biographical information led Rutledge to think of new and innovative ways to connect a new generation to its veterans.
In the years since the publishing of the book, Rutledge, Bruinsma and Nagle have been working extensively on the Dutch Canadians Remember as One project. Not only did the trio successfully lobby to bring Princess Margriet to Goderich for a special celebration, but they also connected her with families of the “Huron County 20”, which is the 20 Huron County men who fought and died during the liberation of Holland. The 20 men are buried in Holland.
Rutledge, Bruinsma and Nagle are still on the hunt for families and biographical information on those 20 soldiers. When Princess Margriet came to Goderich earlier this year, they were able to find eight of the families, but they’re hoping to find more throughout the process.
Nagle, who has worked extensively to build numerous websites throughout Huron County, says the Heroes of Huron website will be database-driven and completely searchable. The new website will enable users to search by name, town, regiment or by cenotaph, which is where the use of QR codes comes in.
Nagle says that the group is hoping to connect with all of Huron County’s lower-tier municipalities in the near future to place QR codes on each cenotaph in order to connect residents to information about their town’s veterans.
A QR code is a small barcode-like picture that is designed to connect with smartphones. A user simply captures an image of the QR code with their smartphone and it takes them right to the Heroes of Huron website. However, with the QR code connection, it will take users to the specific section of the website that contains the names and information of those soldiers on that specific cenotaph.
Rutledge says that making that connection shares the stories behind the names on the monuments. As time goes on and generations grow more and more distant from World Wars I and II, keeping that connection alive is more important than ever.
The starting point for biographical information on all of Huron County’s soldiers who have died in international conflicts in the last century or so will be Rutledge’s research. He began with the soldiers lost in World War II. A further 497 soldiers were lost in World War I, Rutledge said. To his knowledge the county didn’t lose anyone in the Korean conflict, but it did lose Matthew Dinning from Wingham in the Afghanistan war and he will be included on the website, Rutledge said.
That means that over 700 soldiers will be represented on the website by the time Rutledge, Bruinsma and Nagle are done. They’re hoping to comb the internet and use all of the research tools available to them to collect information and photographs about Huron County’s soldiers.
However, they won’t be able to do it alone, so they’re asking the families and friends of soldiers who have been lost to war to contact them through the Dutch Canadians Remember as One website, which is at dutch-canadiansremember.ca.
Currently, the Dutch Canadians Remember as One website is serving as the portal for the Heroes of Huron website, until is can be fully constructed and is ready to launch.
For more information on the project, or to get in contact with Rutledge, Bruinsma or Nagle, visit dutch-canadiansremember.ca online.