Frank Graham, a well-known Midland veteran, died on July 13 at the age of 95.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 80 in Midland will be honouring the Second World War veteran with a special service on July 23. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. with a memorial service following at 3 p.m.
Graham was a member of the Midland Legion for 60 years, serving as president of branch 80 for a short stint during that time.
“We don’t have a lot of older vets left and it’s always a shame to see one of them pass away,” said branch 80 president Ron Adair.
“I’ll miss his presence. Whenever Frank was around he was always straight and tall and very forthright with what he said. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family.”
Graham was 17 years old when he joined the Canadian Armed Forces and the fight against the Nazis.
He started his training with the militia in Toronto when he was a teenager, and enlisted as soon as he was old enough. After completing training, Graham was shipped overseas and spent time in Africa, France, Sicily, Italy, Germany and Holland.
He was stationed in Holland in May 1945 when Canadian troops liberated the country from four years of Nazi control.
The Dutch people never forgot what the Canadian soldiers did for them, and thanked Graham every chance they got.
“He was a very genuine, friendly and caring person,” said Midland Mayor Gord McKay. “He was also a hero with his war record and the inspiration he created, not only in the Canadian community but over in Holland and building the bonds between our two countries.”
The Canada Committee of the Netherlands over the past decade. In 2013, 2015 and 2017 residents of Markelo, Netherlands, held the Frank Graham Cycle Liberation Tour, which saw residents ride from Normandy’s Juno Beach to Markelo.
In September 2017 they unveiled the , which is red with a black centre, similar to a poppy. The small stock of tulip bulbs shipped over to Norman’s Garden Gallery in Midland quickly sold out last fall.
“As a community member, Frank was certainly recognized and regarded very highly, but Frank was a very humble person,” said McKay. “Every time you tried to point out that he was a special individual he would decline and say, ‘It’s not about me. It’s about the guys or the community.’”
In May, a small group of dignitaries came over from the Netherlands on behalf of the Canada Committee of Markelo to honour Graham with . This plaque commemorates the long-standing thanks the Dutch citizens have for the many Canadians, including Graham, who fought and were instrumental in gaining their freedom.
“We are really losing someone who was very important to our community. The good news is that his memory will be long with us and will help us all,” said McKay.