October 23, 2022. On Friday afternoon, October 21, 2022, we were invited to the Loyalist Inn in Summerside for the 2022 PEI Senior Islander of the Year Awards. Pieter was honoured for his volunteer work, with a particular emphasis on his research to uncover the stories and photos of Islanders who served in WW1 and WW2.
The certificate was presented by the Hon. Matthew Mackay, Minister for the Department of Social Development and Housing, and Audrey Morris, Chairperson, PEI Seniors Secretariat, in a ceremony at the Loyalist Inn in Summerside.
….Excerpts from some of the letters of support for the nomination….
Excerpts from some of the letters in support of his nomination included:
“….In 2015 Pieter began researching 46 names listed on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton Legion, and in the process was involved in adding 2 more names, for a total of 48. He not only researched the stories, and where possible, found photos and families of the soldiers, he publicly shared these stories through the media.
In 2017, so much research had been compiled that he and his wife Daria started a dedicated research blog, which continues to this day. He also undertook, at his own expense, a 6 week, 7,000 km war memorial tour through 4 European countries to visit cemeteries and memorials of those soldiers he had researched that were buried there…. and those stories were shared as well.
Pieter continues to share stories of Islanders who served, a valued and immeasurable contribution to our Island’s history. His research has led to a renewed interest in our Island soldiers, and has informed many families and communities about the service and bravery of those who served.
His research now has expanded to include soldiers from other parts of Canada, as requests come in for help from Dutch researchers. Being Dutch Pieter has a deep gratitude towards Canadians for liberating his birth country, which drives his passion to bring to the forefront the sacrifices of those who served….”
“…Pieter, assisted by his wife Daria, has voluntarily, passionately, and tirelessly worked to research the lives of close to eighty Island soldiers killed overseas in WW1 and WW2.
Pieter’s work has brought to life the personal stories of Island soldiers who gave their lives overseas, and until now were only names on plaques. Descendants of these brave men and women, many now seniors, are greatly appreciative and moved by the commemorative work he has done on behalf of their loved ones.
Whether pouring over documents and photos, meeting families of Island soldiers killed overseas, or boarding a plane for Europe to visit war graves and memorials, Pieter persevered, often tramping through fields in search of a Canadian soldier’s grave….”
“…Heritage and in particular a passion for the Veterans of this area led Pieter into the Borden-Legion Cenotaph Project, and I emphasize the contribution Pieter made as he undertook to complete a remarkable amount of research documenting information and faces of forty-eight names on the Cenotaph outside the Borden-Carleton legion, and then continuing with stories of other WW1 and WW2 soldiers from the area. Pieter met with families of these soldiers whenever possible, linking the past with the present, visiting graves and memorials in Canada and in Europe. Pieter continues this research to this present day…”
“ … How special is it for people to bring to life the personal histories of these brave men and women from their local communities who died in service. Pieter’s work reveals his community spirit in supporting Veterans families through his continued efforts.
Even more importantly is the knowledge that family members of these soldiers have someone who has taken the initiative to ensure the families heroes are not forgotten. Through his thorough research it also communicates to the families many facts that they would not have otherwise known about their war heroes…”
….What are the Senior Islanders of the Year Awards?….
The Senior Islanders of the Year Awards have been presented since 2010 to celebrate the work of Island seniors in areas like volunteering, artistic achievement, leadership, mentorship, fundraising, community participation and career achievement.
“These awards are about recognizing and celebrating the significant contributions of Island seniors, through employment, volunteerism and community activities. I cannot think of a more deserving group of Islanders to receive this honour.” – Social Development and Housing Minister Matthew Mackay
Pieter was one of six Island Seniors who were awarded the Senior Islander of the Year for 2022. (See P.E.I. presents Senior Islanders of the Year awards for 2022 | SaltWire https://www.saltwire.com/prince-edward-island/news/local/pei-presents-senior-islanders-of-the-year-awards-for-2022-100786273/)
…Pieter with his guests….
A huge thank you to those who nominated and supported Pieter for this award, and to the PEI Seniors Secretariat for affirming that seniors continue to play a vital role in our society.
As his very proud wife, I was delighted that Pieter received this recognition. I’m extremely proud of him for his incredible work in bringing history to life by telling the stories of individuals who served in WW1 and WW2.
If you have a story to tell, please let Pieter know. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, comment on the blog, or tweet to @researchmemori1.
…Want to follow our research?….
Daria’s book ‘No Soldier Buried Overseas Should Ever Be Forgotten‘ is available in print and e-book formats. For more information see https://nosoldierforgotten.com/
You are invited to subscribe to our YouTube Channel: On The War Memorial Trail With Pieter Valkenburg: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ591TyjSheOR-Cb_Gs_5Kw.
© Daria Valkenburg