Hundreds of individuals stood solemnly in a chilled breeze by the cenotaph here yesterday, remembering the Canadians who answered their call to duty.
The town’s seventh annual Remembrance Day service saw veterans and cadets standing alongside members of the public to honour those who fought for the freedoms of today while also remembering the individuals who lost their lives while serving Canada.
Master of Ceremonies Col. Jim Spears said veterans of the Second World War, the youngest of whom are in their late 80s, are now regrettably joining First World War veterans who’ve already passed away into history.
“They were members of the greatest generation that this country has raised,” said Spears. “We are forever indebted to them for their sacrifice and values that have established Canada as one of the most respected nations in the world.”
Major Peter VanIderstine was in command of the ceremony’s parade assembly, while comrade Norman Thompson read the Act of Remembrance and the honour roll, listing the sons of Stratford who died in service of the country.
Notable members in attendance of the ceremony also included mayor David Dunphy and town councillors, as well as Vernon River-Stratford MLA Alan McIsaac and Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward.
Robyn Verhoeven performed The Last Post, while Sarrah Wood played the lament following the two minutes of Silence. Pte. Logan Blaquiere recited In Flanders Field.
More than 1.7 million Canadians served in the First World War, Second World War and Korean War.
While more than 112,000 never returned home, Spears said none returned from combat completely unscarred.
“Many thousands more came home debilitated by wounds both physical and psychological.”
However, it wasn’t just veterans of those wars being remembered. Since 1947, Canadian soldiers have served in 72 international UN and NATO missions around the world. Canada lost 125 soldiers on peacekeeping duties with the UN, while 158 others were lost in the counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan.
Spears added that the dedication and sacrifice of soldiers, sailors and airmen is too frequently required to secure the freedoms that many in Canada and other countries take for granted.
“Their sacrifice was not only for Canada’s security, but also for those less advantaged countries around the world for which our best so bravely served.”
Rev. John Bennett provided an address and prayer at the ceremony. Bennet said he was remembering his own father, a veteran who died in the past year.
“Many of us will have similar stories but we honour those today who are serving and who have served,” said Bennett. “And we remember those who have made and given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.”
While the reflections of war carried a somber tone, Bennett’s address also provided an uplifting message of hope that war will someday end.
“One day Remembrance Day will only be about past wars,” said Bennett. “One day Remembrance Day will be more than remembering that there are wars that we’re still engaged and involved in.”
Stratford Honour Roll
First World War
- Chester Thomas Balderston
- Kenneth Ferguson
Second World War
- Ralph MacGarry
- Daniel WM MacInnis
- Donald Edison MacRae
- John MacRae
- Allison Boyce McKie
- James Roach
- William J. Stewart