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Pelham remembers the fallen

By The Tribune

Veterans attending Remembrance Day ceremonies in Pelham were “gung-ho” about being out in the rain Sunday.

“It’s really important to them … it’s why we’re here today. They fought in conditions far worse than this,” said Toni McKelvie, president of Royal Canadian Legion Talbot Trail Branch 61, at the Old Pelham Town Hall cenotaph on Canboro Road.

It was the second service of the day for McKelvie, local war veterans, civic officials, legion members, members of local Armed Forces regular and reserve units, military cadets, firefighters and police officers, and ex-servicemen and women in the town.

The first service was held in at the Fenwick cenotaph in Centennial Park, on Church Street, during sometimes very heavy rain. But a tent kept veterans and others somewhat dry during the ceremony.

The final service of the day was at 12:30 p.m at the Peace Park cenotaph behind Pelham town hall.

McKelvie said with four cenotaphs in Pelham, the legion has always held ceremonies at the three before Remembrance Day to accommodate as many people and veterans as possible.

“It’s hard to do all four on Remembrance Day.”

She said the ceremonies, and the day itself, are to honour those who fought for the country and sacrificed for freedom.

“Two thousand seventeen is a milestone year for Canada, marking the anniversary of the Canadian Confederation where this great nation was united 150 years ago.

“It also marks the 100th anniversary of the famous battle of Vimy Ridge. A nation known for its peaceful people, its vibrant culture, and its beautiful countryside is ours to behold thanks to those who have selflessly served in the many wars and peacekeeping operations around the world,” she said during the ceremony.

“We are Canadians, free to speak without fear, free to stand for what we think is right, free to oppose what we believe is wrong, free to worship as we choose, and free to choose those who shall govern our country. This freedom is the very soul of our nation, and for that we are eternally grateful,” she said.

William Ashby, a legion member for 50 years and a veteran, said the ceremonies were to remember the “comrades that lost their lives.”

“It’s a privilege and honour to be on parade today,” said the Armed Forces veteran.

Ashby served as a cook during the Korean War, serving soldiers in basic training in Canada.

“I fed the lads … a lot of them went over and never came back.”

He said younger generations should attend Remembrance Day ceremonies.

“They should get the feeling for what we did for them,” Ashby said.

Niagara West MP Dean Allison spoke at the ceremony and said Canada is the best country in the world because of the veterans and those who serve today, protecting the freedom we enjoy.

Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn said the ceremonies were honouring those who had the courage, commitment, and devotion to stand guard for Canada.

“Today we remember those brave men and women who served and who continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace. The democratic freedom that so many of us take for granted is due to the sacrifices of the veterans and those that serve today. They sacrificed their futures so that our futures might one of peace and happiness,” said Augustyn.

The legion will hold a ceremony Saturday, Nov. 11, at Veterans Park on the grounds of Branch 613 on Regional Road 20 at 10:45 a.m.

dajohnson@postmedia.com



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