A DAY TO REMEMBER
A member of the RCMP stands guard during the Remembrance Day ceremony at SaskTel Centre on Saturday. A crowd of about 7,000 gathered for the event honouring the service and sacrifices of Canada’s military men and women.
As the final notes of The Last Post rang out, a haunting silence settled over SaskTel Centre, where more than 7,000 people stood to honour the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers through the generations.
John Peters, who served in the navy during the Cold War, was one of the many veterans in attendance.
Referring to himself as a peacetime veteran, Peters says he spent 90 per cent of his time deployed on two ships, the HMCS Assiniboine and the HMCS Iroquois, allowing him to see the world while hanging out with his friends and fellow sailors.
Though tensions were always running high during the Cold War, Peters said he and his fellow servicemen were careful not to think about it.
“You didn’t really think about (the dangers) much — maybe one of the reasons is because, if you thought about it, you might have worried to death,” he remembers, laughing.
Peters said that, as the number of veterans of older generations decline, Remembrance Day is becoming more important than ever. It’s an opportunity to understand what those who served more recently — in places like Bosnia and Afghanistan — face when they come home.
“These aren’t like your regular wars. I can see why some of these guys are coming back really messed up. I’ve got a son who has PTSD. I thought he came back OK, and he seems OK most of the time, but every once in a while ...,” he said, trailing off.
Lorelee Finnie is a modern day veteran who served in a medical company in 1994. Finnie said it’s hard living with PTSD, but hopes Remembrance Day will lead to more understanding for those suffering with the condition.
“Once you’ve been in, you’re never the same coming out,” she said.
Irving Larson, a navy veteran of the Korean War who served from 1951-53, has fond memories of his time overseas. He recounted tales of the hijinks he and his friends got up to — including a story where he barely made it back to the ship after a night out drinking with some Australian sailors in Tokyo.
Though he looks back on his wartime experience quite fondly, Larson is quick to note that he knows he had it better than those serving in the army.
“We didn’t see the things the poor army guys did,” he said. “They saw stuff that wasn’t even civilized to talk about.”
At the end of the ceremony, after all the wreaths had been laid and a haunting rendition of In Flanders Fields was sung, more than 1,000 people marched out of the arena. From the veterans to the cadets, all are part of Saskatoon’s military community, giving a piece of their lives to protect their country so all Canadians can live in peace.
My grandfather, he was part of the war years ago, and I just feel it’s very important to remember these people who fought for our country. I enjoy (the ceremony) as well, actually, and have been coming for several years. MARILYN FARRELL Just the freedom that we live in in Canada, that all the people who made those sacrifices for us — to be able to have that, I think it’s amazing. That’s why my family and I come out every year. DEVINDER SAMBHI It’s important to celebrate Remembrance Day because the soldiers died for us. ADRIANNA SCOWEN, As a member of the Brownies, Scowen also participated in the service, but said her main job would be “praying.”
Veterans from various conflicts throughout the years stood to be honoured by the 7,000 people in attendance at one of Canada’s largest indoor Remembrance Day services, held Saturday at SaskTel Centre.