Published on September 22, 2013
Retired Brigadier General Eric Goodwin speaks at the Cornwall Cenotaph Service on Sunday.
Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald
Published on September 22, 2013
Prince Edward Island veterans, including many who served in the Korean War, march to the Cornwall Cenotaph Service on Sunday. Holding the service in September has been a long-standing tradition in the town.
CORNWALL - While Canadians remember veterans from the past, they also shouldn’t forget about the country’s new generation of returning soldiers.
That was the message retired Brigadier General Eric Goodwin gave during remarks at the Cornwall Cenotaph Service on Sunday.
Goodwin, who has been a Cornwall resident for more than 20 years and was also commanding officer of the P.E.I. Regiment and commander of the P.E.I. Militia, said Canada started to generate a new group of veterans about two decades ago.
Those soldiers were sent into combat operations in places like Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo and eventually Afghanistan.
While many lost their lives or limbs, not all injuries were visible from the outside when soldiers returned home, he said.
“I’m talking about is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),” he said. “We’ve all heard about it, some of you may have seen it.”
Canada’s military was unprepared for the disorder, which was formerly known as being shell-shock and includes symptoms ranging from trouble coping with everyday life and lack of sleep, to fits of depression, self-medication and even suicide.
“We didn’t expect it and when they came back we didn’t recognize it, we didn’t know how to treat it,” he said. “A lot of them (those affected) came from Prince Edward Island, some from Cornwall, and quite a few from my old regiment.”
Many victims of PTSD will not seek help as a fear of it being a sign of weakness, said Goodwin.
“That’s not the case,” he said, urging anyone who knows individuals with PTSD symptoms to get them to seek help.
Geoffrey Connolly, chair of the Cenotaph committee, agreed it’s important to not just remember the past but also today’s returning veterans.
“It’s so easy to overlook those (veterans) at a service like this,” he said. “I appreciate your (Goodwin’s) remarks and believe we’ll all take those to heart.”
The September remembrance service has been a tradition in Cornwall since it was first held just after the end of the First World War.
The date was chosen to make it easier for people travelling during a time of horse and buggie, said Connolly, adding that the first Cornwall service was held two months before the first remembrance service at Buckingham Palace.
The tradition continues to this day.
“We’re one of the few civilian groups in the country that still organizes its own remembrance service,” said Connolly. “The Legion helps out and everyone participates but it's a civilian group that looks after the Cenotaph and organizes the service.”
The parade was led by the Belfast Pipe and Drum band and featured veterans from the Korean War, members of the Kingston Legion, RCMP officers, the North River Fire Department and army and sea cadets.
Comrade Lynne MacLauchlan read the honour roll from the First World War, while Comrade Duane MacEwen read the honour roll of the Second World War.
While Goodwin spoke mostly about Canada’s most recent veterans, he didn’t overlook those who fought in the country’s earlier wars.
He left those at the service with another message.
“If you have the opportunity, today or any day, to meet a veteran… shake their hand and say thank you.”