Nov. 11: A day of re­flec­tion

South Shore Breaker - - Local - DAN HEN­NESSEY md­hen­[email protected]­

The Nov. 11 cer­e­monies are now wrapped up for an­other year, with many le­gions re­turn­ing to a lesshec­tic pace.

The wreaths placed at mon­u­ments and ceno­taphs here on the South Shore and through­out Canada are, in some cases, the last ev­i­dence of cer­e­monies held.

Over the last num­ber of years, at­tend­ing the Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­monies in Bridge­wa­ter, there was al­ways plans made to set aside chairs for the Sec­ond World War vet­er­ans di­rectly in front of the mon­u­ment.

Think­ing back to those days not so long ago, these chairs were filled with vet­er­ans of con­flicts from many years ago. They would sit with fam­ily mem­bers bun­dled up in blan­kets; keep­ing a keen eye on what was hap­pen­ing. They would ar­rive on a spe­cial bus that would trans­port them from the le­gion in Bridge­wa­ter to Vet­er­ans’ Me­mo­rial Park.

Upon their ar­rival, they were usu­ally met with ap­plause from those al­ready in place for the cer­e­mony. When you close your eyes, you can see Leon Whynot, Ralph Hebb, Rev. Ron Mosley, Shorty Rho­d­enizer and Bert

Ea­gle, to name but a few, still sit­ting in those VIP chairs with medals proudly dis­played on le­gion uni­forms and in the case of Hebb, still wear­ing his Cana­dian Armed Forces uni­form he wore on his ar­rival home in 1946.

The cer­e­mony in Bridge­wa­ter is not un­com­mon in other towns and cities across the coun­try. The last First World War vet­eran, John Bab­cock, passed away in 2010, end­ing our di­rect link to a war that this year marked 100 years. This ended a con­flict that we thought would be the war to end all wars. Lit­tle did we know that a mere 21 years later, the world would once again be en­gulfed in a new global con­flict, the Sec­ond World War. These vet­er­ans now are cer­tainly in the twi­light of their lives with an av­er­age age of 92. Most le­gions have seen

Sec­ond World War vet­er­ans slowly pass away.

This year, be­fore the crowds gath­ered in Bridge­wa­ter, I looked across at those empty seats as they seemed to be wait­ing pa- tiently for those that would come no more. I missed see­ing those smil­ing faces as they joked with one an­other about events and a time that most of us would not un­der­stand. We stood be­hind those chairs al­most treat­ing that area like hal­lowed ground. The bus ar­rived with a few older le­gion mem­bers who had opted to drive as op­posed to march to Vet­er­ans’ Me­mo­rial Park, but the crowd gath­ered hardly no­ticed their ar­rival. Fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony, those sit­ting left with a smat­ter­ing of ap­plause, boarded the bus and headed on their way.

Dur­ing the early stages of the cer­e­mony on Nov. 11 in Bridge­wa­ter, a young man ap­proached me and, be­ing in uni­form, he must have felt I knew the pro­to­col for the day. His ques­tion to me was sim­ple: “Are these seats for any­one in par­tic­u­lar or can just any­body sit here?” My an­swer to this young man was sim­ple as I said: “These chairs are for the men and women that we have all gath­ered here to­day to hon­our.” With his an­swer in hand, he thanked me and walked away.

Lest we for­get.

Dan Hen­nessey

These empty chairs were once full and seated vet­er­ans from var­i­ous con­flicts, over the years, as vet­er­ans pass, the chairs are still set in front of the Bridge­wa­ter mon­u­ment as a way to re­mem­ber the fallen.

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