Kagawong Cenotaph Board recognizes leadership through the years at Remembrance Day service

Cadets with the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps lay a wreath at the Billings Remembrance Day service. photo by Sharon Jackson

by Sharon Jackson

KAGAWONG—Community members who attended the annual Remembrance Day service presented by the Cenotaph Board were treated to Ben McDonald playing the bagpipes as he escorted members of the military and service leader Dianne Fraser to the front of the room.

“Welcome everyone,” said Ms. Fraser, “and thank you to our pianist (Donna Beam), singers, special guests: members of the 2nd Battalion Irish Regiment of Canada (based in Sudbury) wreath layers and sponsors.”

Along with the traditional singing of O Canada, God Save the Queen, and Eternal Father: Strong to Save, the audience enjoyed Men O’ The North and Taps sung by Sandy Cook, Susie De Kuyper and Jim Munro.

Ms. Fraser read ‘Why Wear a Poppy’ by Don Crawford followed by the wreath laying ceremony.

Those laying wreaths were: Mayor Austin Hunt (The Government of Canada), Councillor Tom Imrie (The Province of Ontario), Deputy Mayor Sharon Alkenbrack (Municipality of Billings), Sharon Jackson (In Honour of the Silver Cross Mothers—Mabel Wyman Green, mother of Fred Green who was killed in WWII), Peter Fletcher (The Royal Canadian Navy), Robert Johnson (The Canadian Army), Les Osborne (The Royal Canadian Air Force), Bill Temple (The Merchant Marines), Red Butler (The Peacekeeping Forces), Sgt. Mike Patterson (Ontario Provincial Police), Constable Robert Manley (UCCM Anishnaabe Police), Lt. Denis Blake (Wikwemikong Tribal Police), Beverly Wright (West Manitoulin Legion Branch) and Fern Chamberland (The Veterans of Past Wars). Each was escorted by a member of the 348 Manitoulin Royal Canadian Sea Cadets.

Sea Cadet Miranda Mackay played The Last Post and Reveille on the bugle following laying of the wreaths and two minutes of silence.

Maureen Johnson recited ‘In Flanders Fields’ written by Lt Colonel John MacRae, MD who was with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp.

Featured at the service was the military career of Garry L A Riebertz whose parents Dan and Fay make their home at Maple Point. Rick Nelson read a poem written while serving during one of his tours of duty in Afghanistan called ‘The Price of Freedom.’

“I cannot speak for everyone. I can only speak for me

I can tell you of the pride I feel to set a country free

Fallen from an explosion and taken into the light

Bury me beneath the flag that flies half mast tonight

Tears fall from friends and family remembering my deeds

Tears of joy fall from the sky for the country we set free

What is the price of freedom? Is my life too great a fee?

If you ask me, it isn’t, for a country to be free.”

“His life,” shared Rick Nelson, “was profoundly changed by it.”

“On behalf of the Cenotaph Board,” said Mr. Nelson, “thank you for coming today. Following the service I hope you visit the Old Mill Heritage Museum; we have a few new toys to show off.”

“Members of our military, such as Mr. Riebertz, made the sacrifice to go anywhere our leaders sent them,” stated Mr. Nelson. In 2016 our military is “on the other side of the world in Iraq.  Their focus for the past year has been ISIS. They are on their knees,” stated Mr. Nelson, “but not down and out via recruitment over the Internet.”

“Things can get better,” he shared. The question to be asked is ‘how did things get so bad?’

Mr. Nelson paid tribute to war leaders such as Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Mackenzie King. They each came with a game plan.

Local heroes such as Allan Tustian, now 97-years-old, “knew there was a chance he could die. There were smart people at head office,” stated Mr. Nelson. 

“Korean War veteran Red Butler knew he and his fellow soldiers had a job to do and they did it,” Mr. Nelson added.

Cold War veteran Ron Young, while keeping a lookout for Russians, knew he had a job to do. He never questioned his orders, shared Mr. Nelson. “Leadership was key.” 

“Canada,” stated Mr. Nelson, “has a fairly new leader in Justin Trudeau and the United States just elected a new president in Donald Trump. Democracy is not pretty sometimes. America has made their decision. It would be naive if Canada were to believe we are not affected by it.”

“War time leaders,” concluded Mr. Nelson, “come up with a game plan. Soldiers pay the ultimate price, and pray for peace. It is impossible to eliminate risk. They must see the big picture, the end game and pledge to do their best for us. Whatever the mission, they will do it.”

Mr. Nelson turned the service back to Ms. Fraser who took a moment to inform those in attendance that the donations taken at the door go towards donation of the Cenotaph, poppy fund, Sea Cadet bursary, trip to Vimy Ridge, and band equipment.

Members of the Cenotaph Board include Chair Peter Fletcher, Vice Chair Ron Young, Lillian Boyd, Beverly Wright, Dianne Fraser, Rick Nelson and Carol Pierce.

Following the service, everyone was invited to refreshments and encouraged to visit the military display on exhibit at the Old Mill Heritage Museum.