Righting a wrong

Black Truro man recognized more than 90 years after his heroic deed in the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Jason Malloy jmalloy@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on February 23, 2010

TRURO - A "historic wrong" was rectified Monday as a black Truro man was posthumously awarded a national service medal 93 years after it was earned.
The family of Pte. Jeremiah Jones received the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service in front of a packed Royal Canadian Legion of nearly 300 people.
During the Great War, Jones single-handedly took out a German machine gun nest in April 1917 during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Rear-Admiral Paul Maddison told the Branch 26 audience Jones' commanding officer allegedly indicated he would recommend the Truro native for the distinguished conduct medal, which is second only to the Victoria Cross.
"But most regrettably, and I think, clearly attributable to the bigoted social attitudes of the time, Mr. Jones was never awarded the medal which his (comrades) and his family always believed he so rightfully deserved," said Maddison, as a hush came over the crowd.
Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis said Jones is a pioneer but not because of his membership in a famed regiment or service at
Vimy Ridge.
"It was his willingness to defend his country at a time when his country really did not want him," she said. "Jones looked beyond the ingrained racism he undoubtedly faced on a daily basis and sought to serve in a noble and valiant manner."
Jones was described as a "remarkable Canadian," a "giant figure in the history of African Canadians who have served their country," and a "military hero."
"This ceremony is about ... rectifying an historic wrong and recognizing historic Canadian figure," Defence Minister Peter MacKay said.
"For countless years, the historic acts and deeds of some black soldiers, sailors, air men and women were not appropriately noticed or recognized."
Roger Jones, who grew up in Truro and now lives on the West Coast, said people have been coming up to him the past few days and saying how proud they were of his grandfather. Following Monday's presentation an African proverb was on his mind.
"Until the lion begins to tell his own story, the glory of the hunt belongs to the hunter. So today, I think Jerry Jones is that lion and finally we've been able to tell his story," he said. "I am very proud."