Reflecting on the price of freedom
Every year, the Williamstown and Lancaster Remembrance ceremonies are held on the Sunday preceding November 11 to ensure that everyone can attend.
Sunday, a mild day with overcast skies and intermittent rain, several hundred people assembled at the Williamstown Cenotaph for the 11 a.m. ceremony, and later, another large crowd gathered at Lancaster’s cenotaph to honour and remember those who have served in times of war, military conflict and peace.
The two South Glengarry ceremonies are organized by the Royal Canadian Legion Lancaster Branch 544 and coor- dinated by Legion Second Vice President Pierre Roy.
In his opening address, Mr. Roy described Canada’s 150th anniversary as also a special year for the commemoration of the country’s military heritage, marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, the 75th anniversary of the WWII Dieppe Raid, and the 100th anniversary of Canada’s involvement in the First World War’s battle of Passchendaele.
“There were many acts of great courage by our soldiers during the battle of Passchendaele,” said Mr. Roy. Nine Canadians earned the Victoria Cross, the highest award for military valour, at the deciding battle. “And of course there were Glengarrians there – as is evident by the names inscribed on this monument,” said Mr. Roy nodding to the Williamstown Cenotaph.
“If you visit the Glengarry Nor’Westers and Loyalist Musuem, you will see on display some of the personal wartime effects of Sgt. Hugh Farquhar Christie, a resident of Martintown who was killed at Passchendaele and of his brother Lt. Donald Murdoch Christie who died while in the service of the Royal Flying Corp. During the battle of Passchendaele Sgt. Christie earned the DCM, the second highest medal for valour after the Victoria Cross.”
At the Lancaster ceremony, special guest Lt.- Col. Christopher Horner, commandant of the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations in Cornwall, stood in the rain without a mic to speak to the SD&G Highlanders, air cadets from 253 Lancaster Claude Nunney VC squadron, the South Glengarry Pipe Band, veterans, legion members, police and fire service personnel, and villagers.
“Today's rainy weather is very fitting because it’s a small reflection of what the soldiers faced 100 years ago at Passchendaele when the rain turned the battlefield into a sea of mud which still makes the name Passchendaele synonymous with the wet wasteland many people picture when they think about the First World War,” said Lt.- Col. Horner.
Mr. Roy turned to the challenges faced by modern- day veterans and their families, saying, “Canadians when engaged in the profession of arms have time and again distinguished themselves, have brought honour and glory to their country, but it always came at a price. All too often some return broken with visible wounds, but sometimes the wounds are not visible but are just as disabling,” he reflected.
“We as citizens of Canada have an obligation to provide them and their families with all the care and support available at our disposal. The welfare of our military personnel and their families must become even more of a national priority, one that transcends all political priorities. There is no other national issue that carries the same moral obligation because no other national issue requires this level of sacrifice, nobody suffers physical harm fighting for a better economy or for better infrastructure.”
COLOUR PARTY: The colour party for the South Glengarry ceremonies was supplied by the 253 Claude Nunney VC Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron.
MAXVILLE REMEMBERS: Lancaster native Corporal Justin Roberge of the 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (5 CMBG) based at Valcartier, right, passes a wreath to Alexandria Legion Branch 423 1st Vice-President Dave Hrynkiw at the Maxville Remembrance Day ceremony. This is the third year Corporal Roberge has served as wreath bearer for the ceremonies organized by Alexandria Legion Branch 423. He joined the armed forces after enrolling in the Canadian Forces Co-op Program when he was a student at Glengarry District High school.