Beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures helped provide the ideal setting as a special dedication service took place on the lawn of the Antigonish RCMP Detachment Aug. 9.
Inspector Tony Perry, a long-time RCMP member and leader at the detachment who passed away in October of last year, was remembered and honoured as a memorial bench in his name was unveiled. The inscription on the front of granite bench reads; ‘In Memory of Insp. Tony Perry, Rest in Peace – from his Troopmates.’
The moving service started with a ‘welcome’ speech from Perry’s daughter Melissa. Her thoughtful words were followed by an opening prayer from Father Dan MacDonald, remarks on behalf of the RCMP by Pictou County Staff Sergeant Steve Halliday, a musical interlude by John Pellerin and Perry’s other daughter, Melanie, offering words of gratitude to all who helped make the dedication happen.
Melanie’s words of appreciation were followed by a closing prayer by MacDonald.
In the most touching moment of the service, Perry’s grandchildren, Ben and Luke Marchand, and Violet and Douglas Halford, pulled back the covering to unveil the bench.
“Born out of an idea from his troopmates which I think is special because it actually speaks to the bond RCMP members grow when they go to training in Regina and spend six months together,” Halliday said of the memorial bench.
“Those are life-long memories and lasting relationships that can carry on forever and I think this bench speaks to that.
“And it’s poignant we are looking at a granite bench here today because that really demonstrates the strength of character that Tony lived every day, and that strength of character is a legacy he leaves on for his family and the other members who will be stationed here.
“May this place be a position of rest, respite and reflection for all those who may choose the opportunity to take advantage of its strength.”
He also noted the “poignancy” of the bench’s location outside the Antigonish Detachment.
“Where Tony served for so many years and became so connected with the community and raised his family here,” Halliday, who also read a well-scripted letter for one of Perry’s troopmates, said.
Melissa started her words by talking about an “incredibly trying nine and half months.”
“Throughout this time though, it has been so very touching to hear stories about ways my dad affected so many people and to see the ways people have chosen to remember him,” she said. “The local MADD chapter awarded the Tony Perry Scholarship for Community Leadership this June, the first annual Inspector Perry Memorial Hockey Tournament will take place this fall and now we have this bench; donated by the members of my dad’s troop – Troop 9.”
She talked about her father going west to Regina to begin his RCMP career and her “earliest” memory of making the same journey to see him graduate as a member of Troop 9.
Words about Antigonish followed.
“Like any good police officer, dad lived in the community he served and that is why when you look around today, you’ll see his fellow RCMP members and you’ll also see his neighbours, his fellow hockey lovers … his friends,” Melissa said. “My dad immersed himself in the town and county of Antigonish not only because of the stripes on his pants but because this is where our family called ‘home,’ where Melanie and I went to school, grew up and made our beautiful childhood memories.”
Like Halliday, Melissa talked about the appropriateness of the solid bench.
“I’m sure, at some point or another, we have all sat on a bench that was positioned somewhere in someone’s memory; I know I have,’ she said. “And I may or may not have read the name on the bench and I may or may not have considered the person in whose honour the bench was placed. But I know, for sure, I would have sat for a moment and that bench would have been there for me in some way … to give me a bit of comfort or rest. To prop me up before I carried on.
“And so, isn’t a bench such a fine way to honour my dad. A person who would absolutely bring you a bit of comfort when you needed it. Who would have supported you and held you up when you needed a bit of help. And not asked questions or looked for any kind of praise or recognition … just been there.”
In her words of thanks, Melanie pointed out the bench sits just outside two of the windows of an office her father occupied as he served as the detachment’s staff sergeant.
“It seems fitting,” she said, gesturing towards the nearby windows.
“To our friends who could be here today, it’s hard to find the words to thank you,” Melanie said as part of her closing words.
“Not just for your presence today but for your support over the last nine months for our family which resonates the true meaning of friendship.”