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Despite icy conditions, many attend Remembrance Day Services in RR
By Ken Johnston
Despite the thick coat of glare ice everywhere in and around Rainy River, a near capacity crowd filled the Legion Hall Sunday morning for Remembrance Day services.
Legion President Walter Wagner welcomed everyone after the marching on of the colours and the singing of O Canada.
All veterans present were then asked to stand to be recognized. They received a round of applause from the crowd.
Pres. Wagner then recited a poem called “A Soldier’s Cemetery.” He was notably choked up, taking truly to heart the meaning of the day and the supreme sacrifice so many soldiers made so we can have freedom today.
Following the hymn, “Let there be Peace on Earth” the crowd observed two minutes of silence.
Another hymn, “Put Peace into Each Other’s Hands," was sung by the United Church Choir.
Then as tradition would have it, RR Mayor Debbie Ewald read the Honour Roll. However before she began, Pres. Wagner explained that the roll would have more information on each of the men this year.
Ewald read the war they were killed in, when they died and how old they were. Many people after the service commented on how young the men were. Many in their late teens and most in early 20s. “It is so sad that there are so many young men on our honour roll,” said President Wagner.
Elaborating on the current mandate of the Canadian Legion, Pres. Wagner said, “We strive to keep the memories of them alive, not just today, but every day!”
George Johnson then delivered the Prayer for Peace. “Give us a desire for Peace and to have tolerance for others and an end to war and all the killing and maiming that has taken place.”
After the final hymn, “O God Our Help in Ages Past” Gill Stamler read the Benediction.
Due to the 3/4 of an inch of freezing rain that fell Friday and Saturday and the extremely icy conditions that ensued, Pres. Wagner decided to hold the cenotaph ceremony inside. A smaller imitation cenotaph was set up on the stage and more than 50 wreathes were laid.
Afterwards there was a luncheon held and later in the day the annual Remembrance Day Banquet was held. MP John Rafferty attended as he always does, but this year he brought something special for one of the guests. Legion Past President Gerry Marchuk was presented with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. Rafferty spoke very highly of Marchuk’s more than three decades of service to the community through the Legion and on town council.
Marchuk received a round of applause and was totally taken back. He was speechless when given the opportunity to speak. He did thank everyone for coming and said, “I am truly humbled by this honour.”