History preservers

Hugh Halliday, centre, poses for photo with fellow recipients of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton.

I sat elbow-to-elbow with history last Sunday. Many seated around me had piloted military aircraft in hostile skies. Others had gone aloft as Royal Canadian Air Force navigators, radio operators, gunners and flight engineers. But just as many had made history in the ranks of the volunteer association that gathers, preserves and celebrates the romance of flight in peacetime – the Air Force Association of Canada. Closest to me (and equally close to that history) sat Hugh Halliday, eminent Canadian air historian. We talked about current writing projects. It turned out he had research I needed and he offered it to me without question, without thought of compensation.

“The best way to preserve history,” Halliday said, “is to share it.”

Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

Ted Barris, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient
Ted Barris, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient

During an awards ceremony at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum on Oct. 14, 2012, Sen. Joseph Day presented Ted Barris with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. The announcement issued with the award said, in part, “the medal is a visible and tangible way to recognize outstanding Canadians … who have built and continue to build this caring society and country through their service and achievements.”

Barris was nominated for the award by the Air Force Association of Canada. In a letter, Dean Black, the AFAC executive director, explained that the association “convened a committee that screened and ranked hundreds of applications from across Canada, using the selection criteria of recent and significant service to the association’s objectives of heritage, youth and advocacy.” Barris was among about 45 individuals chosen by the AFAC to receive the medal.