For at least the third-consecutive year, Remembrance Day in Rainy River District was greeted with sunshine and nice weather, allowing for an impressive turnout at the Devlin, Emo, Barwick, and Stratton cenotaph services.
Jane Allan, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Br. #99, said the attendance at Friday’s services was “excellent” compared to last year.
She also noted she was thrilled by the participation from local schools.
“It is really just beautiful to see the children there,” Allan remarked, noting many sang songs, read poems, and also laid wreaths.
“It’s really important for them to be there,” she stressed.
With fewer and fewer veterans able to attend the Remembrance Day ceremonies each year, Allan indicated the crowds standing silently at district cenotaphs is not dwindling.
People will remember and children will understand, she said.
Each of the four services was conducted in a similar manner so people could attend where it was most convenient.
After the singing of “O Canada,” prayers were said and the names of the fallen comrades read aloud while members of the Fort Frances Sea Cadets #144 acted as honour guards.
Numerous wreaths then were laid in remembrance at each service by representatives from the respective municipalities, OPP, provincial government, federal government, Sea Cadets, Emo Legion Br. #99, and schools—just to name a few.
The “Last Post” echoed in the silence as those on hand stood solemnly, watching the Canadian flag lowered in the breeze.
The Emo Legion’s Colour Party, consisting of Peggy Johnson, Myles Kinnear, and Wellington Moulton, along with Sgt.-at-Arms Gerald Allan, marched the colours off at the conclusion of each service.
That evening, the Emo Legion held its annual Remembrance Day dinner and awards, again with a large turnout, including many familiar faces of those from the cenotaph services earlier in the day.
After the Colour Party marched in the colours, “O Canada” was sung and Emo Reeve Russ Fortier welcomed the guests.
Those on hand enjoyed dinner and dessert, then Allan presented several Legion pins and medals recognizing the years of service of past and present executive members.
The recipients of the Long-term Service Pins included:
•Shirley Bird, Shelly Caul, and Doug Teeple (15 years);
•J.R. Hunsperger and T. Vennechenko (25 years);
•S. Bruce and E. Hyatt (30 years);
•M. Grant McComb (55 years); and
•Carl Bragg and Gerald Seed (60 years)
Allan noted the Emo Legion branch has 197 members, with 25 who are able to work hard.
“We raise money through 50/50 draws, Nevada, and Bingo,” she explained, adding they give out three high school bursaries, as well as donations to many organizations around the district, including minor hockey, figure skating, the Cyclone swim club, the D.A.R.E. program, Kids & Co., Sea Cadets, and the Emo Walleye Classic.
“We can’t keep the money,” Allan said. “We have to give it to organizations, which we enjoy doing.”
Allan then presented a $1,500 cheque to Reeve Fortier, from the Bingo account, to be used at the Emo sportsfield.
She also gave Lt(N) Terry Newman of the Fort Frances Sea Cadets #144 a $1,500 cheque.
Ontario NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton, along with federal NDP candidate John Rafferty, also spoke to the crowd about their personal experiences surrounding Remembrance Day.
Hampton read an excerpt from “The Long Left Flank,” where at the end of the book, a surrendering German officer asks his Canadian escort what he did before the war.
And the Canadian responds, “I worked for a company that made ice cream.”
“This shows the Canadians who went to war were not professional soldiers,” explained Hampton. “They were volunteers and regular people—they were quiet heroes.”