PORT HAWKESBURY: September 2, 2020 was the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Local residents, when coming into town from Port Hastings, may have noticed the large “WE REMEMBER” banner on the North side of the Branch 43 patio. The banner was installed early this year because of the significance of the anniversary.
RCL Branch 43 acknowledged the 75th anniversary by holding a Special Ceremony of Remembrance. Starting from the Civic Centre, the colour party led by Comrade Dernie Gillis, marched down along the new walking path to the cenotaph. Following the colour party were special guests, 1st deputy to the District A Commander Comrade Sylvester MacInnis, Zone 3 Commander Comrade John MacLeod Langley, Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton and the Branch 43 executive. Also joining the parade were community members who would be participating in the ceremony.
Branch 43 President Gary Burns greeted the parade at the cenotaph, along with approximately 100 people from the community, all of whom, in a wonderful sign of respect for each other, followed the current physical/social distancing and mask wearing guidelines.
Once Burns opened the ceremony, Comrade Julie Murphy led the gathering in singing the National Anthem. Chaplain Comrade Captain, CD, Retd Wayne Urquhart was then called upon to deliver the opening prayer.
Zone Commander Langley explained the purpose and agenda for this Special Ceremony of Remembrance. He explained that the memory of all Canadians who served during WW2 would be honoured by laying wreaths representing the breadth of Canada’s contribution to the war effort. He also underlined the need for all present to continue follow the provincial Covid19 guidelines.
Chisholm-Beaton then delivered a touching address, as much to the upcoming generation as to those who were there, to continue the tradition of Remembrance.
Burns led the gathering through the “The Last Post,” two minutes of silence, “Revielle” and the “Act of Remembrance.” After Comrade Marguerite recited “In Flanders Fields,” the gathering was led through the laying of the wreaths by Poppy Chair Comrade Rod Corbett. He reminded everyone again that Covid19 had hit the world like a bad storm and the only way to get through it is by acting with a singleness of purpose, together, like the Great Generation did during WW2.
A brief history of the events around each mission, theatre or battle was delivered as the 12 wreaths were laid: Defence of Iceland (Operation Fork) – Shane Hendsbee; Battle of the Atlantic (Convoy Protection) – Comrade Adelene Embree; Merchant Navy – Iaian Langley; the Sailors Prayer was recited after the Merchant Navy wreath was laid; Battle of Hong Kong – Donnie MacIsaac; Dominion of Newfoundland (Air, Sea, Land) – Carolyn Langley; and Dieppe Raid – Comrade Brian MacDonald; Normandy, France (Operation Overlord) – Gerard MacMaster; Invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky)- Comrade Bev Arsenault; Italian Invasion (Devil’s Brigade) – Comrade Hughie MacDougall; Battle of the Scheldt in Belgium – Kevin Pierce; Liberation of The Netherlands – Annette Moar; and the Home Front (the Canso Strait Area) – Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton.
With the delivery of the closing prayer and the playing of the Royal Anthem on trumpet by Comrade Julie Murphy, the Colour Party, guests, branch members and veterans marched off.