GORE BAY—It was a beautiful sight as piper Dave Beaton led veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 514 and other service groups and organizations assembled in the parade through the downtown streets of Gore Bay to the cenotaph, with a very large crowd of members of the public in attendance.
“I’m honoured to be here today as a member of the Royal Canadian Legion to speak to you about Remembrance,” stated Alyssa Priddle. “Remembrance Day ceremonies like this one are a well known way to honour the men and women who served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace. These wars touched the lives of Canadians of all ages, all races and social classes,” said Ms. Priddle. “Fathers, sons, daughters and sweethearts were killed in action, wounded and thousands who returned were forced to live the rest of their lives with the physical and mental scars of war.”
“Yet for many of us, war is a phenomenon seen through the lens of a television camera or a journalist’s account of fighting in distant parts of the world,” said Ms. Priddle. “Our closest physical and emotional experience may be the discovery of wartime memorabilia in a family attic. But even items such as photographs, uniform badges, medals and diaries can seem vague and unconnected to the life of their owner.”
“For those of us born during peacetime all wars seem far removed from our daily lives,” continued Ms. Priddle. “By remembering their service and their sacrifice we recognize the tradition of freedom these men and women fought to preserve. They believed that their actions in the present would make a significant difference for the future, but it is up to us to ensure that their dream of peace is realized. On Remembrance Day we acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of those who served their county and acknowledge our responsibility to work for the peace they fought hard to achieve.”
“This year marks the 98th year in a row Canada will honour Remembrance Day,” said Ms. Priddle. “Whatever the reason you have to remember—show you care and show you remember by wearing your poppy.”
After everyone took part in the singing of our national anthem, O Canada, lead by the Gore Bay Girl Guides, RCL legion Chaplin Erwin Thompson provided the opening prayer.
“Loving Creator God, we again come together as a community to remember all those who have fought and served in the Canadian Forces in the many wars and peacekeeping tours on this planet we call earth, throughout our 150 years as the country of Canada.”
“The service personnel of our army, navy and air force include all nationalities from around the world who call Canada home, including the First Nations peoples,” said Mr. Thompson. “We are thankful to each person who has come and brought their cultures and traditions to this place.”
“Today we especially remember our veterans and their families,” he continued. “We tend to remember only those who served in World War I and II but forget those from the Korean offensive, Vietnam, the many peacekeeping tours in Egypt, Bosnia and Afghanistan and so many more. Also, our Forces are often called to help at home in natural disasters such as fire and flood. May all personnel who have served and those serving now know how thankful as a country we are for all their efforts. When we see a person in uniform may we go up to them and personally thank them.”
“Today we especially remember all those who fought in the Battle of Passchendaele 100 years ago yesterday, which saw the loss of life and wounded of nearly 16,000,” said Mr. Thompson.
The ceremony then included the ‘Last Post,’ two minutes of silence and ‘Reveille’ played by Mr. Beaton.
Ms. Priddle then read the Act of Remembrance, “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”
Ms. Priddle explained, “we have Jack Clark here to read us last year’s winning Canadian poem, ‘I am the Poppy’ by Gina Spencer, a student in Newfoundland.
“When my seed was planted many years ago,
I was given a very important obligation.
I am a holder of memories,
Of battles once fought and people once living.
Every moment I think of the brave soldiers who died.’
Were they scared, knowing the end was near?
Were they happy, knowing they were protecting their country?
Or were they tired, wanting everything to be over?
I watch solemnly as people mourn’
For the young men and women who never returned home.
They wish they could have known them better,
Before they were taken away from this Earth.
I remember them all,
Their names always ringing in my head.
Like shots fired,
Like unheard cries.
I sway with the breeze, never once wishing to be somewhere else.
For I know my duty is here.
I need to represent the fallen,
Who can no longer speak for themselves.
I silently tell their tales of bravery.
How they didn’t give up despite the fact that the whole world seemed to be against them.
They fought on when they could have run.
They rose to the challenge when others retreated into the shadows.
My red petals are their blood, spilled senselessly.
My black centre are their eyes, no longer seeing.
My long steam are their seemingly endless battles.
My roots are the sorrows of their loved ones.
I am the poppy.
Use me to remember them.”
The symbolic laying of the wreaths ceremony took place following the reading. Don Watson laid a wreath on behalf of the federal government; Brian Bell for the Ontario government; Ron Lane for the town of Gore Bay; Lee Hayden for the municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island; Lyle Honess for the municipality of Burpee/Mills; Nathan Farquhar Kay and Jaimie Geist for the Canadian Forces; Darryl Leighton for the Ontario Provincial Police; Carolyn Dearing for Royal Canadian Legion Branch 514; Kim Kelly for Canada Post; John Allison for the Manitoulin/Sudbury EMS; Mike Addison for the Gore Bay/Gordon/Barrie Island Fire Department; Tracey Chapman and Rylee Williamson for C.C. McLean Public School; Mary Lea Buchan for the Order of the Eastern Star; Scott McDougall for the Masonic Lodge; Hope Merrylees for the Children of Manitoulin; Willow Fogal and Sadie Hardy for the Canadian Girl Guides, Brownies and Sparks; and Maggie King on behalf of aboriginal veterans.
Mr. Thompson concluded the service by providing the closing prayer.
Ms. Priddle thanked all the volunteers who helped make the ceremony possible and the many residents who attended. She added, “for those who are unaware, this will be the second year that we have started the poppy walk wreath. This is the wreath we are going to leave out for the public to pin their poppy to this weekend to pay their respects.”