‘Jake’s Gift’, a solo performance passing on the legacy of remembrance

Jake’s Gift, an emotionally powerful, both sad and humorous, performance. That was Julia Mackey’s one hour evening performance of Jake’s Gift on Friday, November 2 at the Coronation Community Centre hosted by Coronation Royal Performing Arts.
One woman’s portrayal of a Canadian WWII veteran who reluctantly returns to Normandy, France, for the 60th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion. While revisiting the beach, Jake encounters Isabelle, a bright, precocious 10-year-old from the local village whose natural curiosity and magical charm challenges the old soldier to face some long-ignored ghosts.  Most notably the war-time death of his eldest brother, Chester, a once promising young musician.  Julia did a convincing job as the four characters; Isabella, Grandme’re, Jake and the school teacher.

In June 2004, Julia travelled to Normandy, France, for the 60th Anniversary of D-Day. She attended many ceremonies, walked the coastline and interviewed numerous veterans who had returned for the occasion. The experiences of the veterans as well as her own discoveries and a life long interest in Remembrance Day led to the creation of the play, a love letter of thanks to past and present men and women who sacrificed much, including their lives for the greater good.
“It’s about passing on that legacy of remembrance.” This solo performance is one that every Canadian should see.
The performance was opened with a vocal performance by Karen Fawcette accompanied by pianist, Michelle Andres with songs of the war years.
Commentary opened with acknowledgements to some of east central Alberta’s present troops; Private Anthony Reid, Ilia Lalchev Base Transport in service since 2009, Eric LaClair from Brownfield serving one and a half years in Afghanistan in 2009-2010 and Rob Dewinter, son of Russell and Brenda Hillis of Coronation. He joined in 1999 and was stationed in Petawawa, Ontario with the Royal Canadian Dragoons and served in Bosnia for two tours in 2000 and 2001 and Afghanistan in 2006.
Also in attendance were Master Warrant Officers Martin Marceau and Kevin Crane, who was in attendance with wife Nancy who served six months in Afganastan.  Sergeant Robert McCrea and wife Sergeant Carol Gallager.
The veterans present who were also acknowledged were Bill Duncan who was enlisted in March of 1941 and completed his service as ranking staff sergeant in 1946, Greg Doyle, who enlisted in 1966 in New Brunswick at age 17 with parents’ consent. During his four years of service he did six months as a peacekeeper in Cyprus, with short stays in Ireland and Germany, completing his enlistment in Wainwright and took up residence in Coronation in 1970.
Dave Pennington who enlisted in January 1943 with the Royal Edmonton Regiment. He was deployed to Sicily then to mainland Italy in 1944 where he was wounded by shrapnel. Gravely injured he was hospitalized in Rome and was later sent to England to recover. Due to his injures, Dave was never to return to active duty. However, it wasn’t until 1946 that he would be able to return to Canada and eventually take up farming in Veteran.

 

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