Billy Cameron didn’t really know what was being talked about when he got an important phone call.
On the other end of the phone, the 85-year-old was talking to someone about him being awarded the Governor General of Canada Sovereign Medal for Volunteers.
“It was very good of them to do it,” Cameron said of Marilyn Roberts who nominated him for the award, and Mike Gregory, one of a number who supported the nomination. “I’m glad that they did. Marilyn’s a pretty good girl, and Mike, too, I know them well.”
While he was a man of few words while talking about receiving the medal, Cameron said it was 1955 when he joined the Royal Canadian Legion. Along with the Governor General medal, Cameron was recently awarded his 60-year pin with the Legion.
“I have a lot of good memories,” he said, of the last 60 years. “It’s always good times.”
Cameron was 17 when he joined the Canadian military and headed off to war. His comrades, he said, were at least 10 years older and trying to recruit members.
“I guess it was one of those things you do at the time,” he said.
Over the past 60 plus years with the Legion, Cameron has volunteered countless hours in the local community.
“What would you not be involved in?” he asked. “It’s my idea to be active in the community too, not just for the veterans. I’m still that way today. There’s nothing we couldn’t be active in.”
Frank Beck, president of Branch 64, presented Cameron with the Sovereign Medal for Volunteers on behalf of Gregory, who was hospitalized after a hornet sting. The medal recognizes volunteer achievements of Canadians in a range of fields, and replacing the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.
In speaking to the crowd, Beck said Cameron committed his life to his country, his province, and his community.
“Mr. Cameron is someone who deeply cares about his community and the people in it,” Beck read from a prepared speech.
The speech featured words from Roberts’ nomination, and letters of support from four others in the community.
“Mr. Cameron is always there when needed. He never says no and no one can no to him,” Beck read.
Along with Cameron’s 60-year service pin from the Legion, fellow member Gordon Hillier was honoured for 70 years.
“I was still going to school when the war broke out,” said Hillier, 92. “Our teacher would take us outside wo watch the planes fly over from Debert.”
It wasn’t long after that Hillier attended advance training and got word he was being sent to Halifax to join the West Novies.
“Something had happened and it was cancelled,” he said. “The next time I got called, the war had ended. A month or so later, I got called into the drill hall where they asked for volunteers to join the Americans.”
Hillier spent two weeks training with another 150 volunteers or so.
In the meantime, however, a bomb was dropped in Hiroshima, again cancelling Hillier’s deployment.
“After I got out of the service, I was working with a school chum trucking and he was joining the Legion. I wasn’t interested, but after some long coaxing, I agreed to join.”
That was back in 1947, and it didn’t take Hillier long to become impressed by what Legion members were accomplishing in the community.
“I love the camaraderie, and the work they do,” he said. “With Bill, he’s done so much for this Legion.”