I don’t like the word War on this day, or any really. It sounds too organized. Massacre is far more fitting. Groups of people killing for small powerful people, for land, for power, for nothing good, except maybe intermittent peace between more massacres, more atrocities, more power-grabs. I like to imagine you Jack Heffernan, my great-
grandfather, as a brave kid in 1914. Truthfully though, and rightly so, you were likely just trying to survive another impossible climate: the Glace Bay coal mines, where your 14 year old self struggled to live out each day. Perhaps you thought he had already seen enough horror, so why not enlist. One lie about your age and you were there, within a year of training, taking orders from the highland soldiers. One lie: now corrected on your enlistment papers. You said you were born October 8th, 1897, when in fact it was May, 1900. You were a child. You had the luck of the Irish too; given to the strength of the “Women from Hell” as their scared combatants dubbed them for their long, the 73rd Black Watch , those Scots’ long hair and kilts on the battlefield keeping you safe. You took shrapnel at Vimy, April 9th., and at 18years were discharged. The Youngest Newfoundlander wounded at that time, in the Canadian Army. The luckiest luck there is. A piece of bullet in your thigh saved this family tree. Without, who knows. And that’s what today always reminds me of. So many didn’t have Jack’s that got to come back. How many men and women who would’ve been doctors or artists, or given birth to them? How many beautiful and hard-working souls thrown into slaughter? It is not enough to remember. Nor was it for you old Jack. You trained other young Jack’s to pack parachutes in WWII out of Montreal, operated an aircraft welding and trade school in Montreal and qualified Approx. 1,500 Men and Women for work in aircraft factories. Your hands never left war. You were called in to inspect and renovate 3 chutes that were salvaged from Sir Frederick Banting’s crash off the coast of our home, Newfoundland.
When I think of where, and of what, I come from, I always say the Town of the Gould’s, Jack Heffernan’s home, his kin and his gift of hard work, his bravery, gave me a chance to at least attempt to be great as well. I come from the place he was lucky enough to come home from another massacre and begin his in. Sleep well Old Jack, as I always, I salute you, completely.