DEBERT – For the love of Canada and everything it stands for.
It’s what so many have laid down their lives to protect. It’s also what brought about 350 people to the Debert cenotaph Sunday to say thank you at the community’s Remembrance Day service.
“We have a lot more freedom than most countries, said former Truro resident Molly Graham, whose late husband Ronald hailed from Debert and served on a Corvette in the Canadian Navy during the Second World War. “I’m very proud of what he did. Why wouldn’t I be?”
Canada has lost 114,457 soldiers to the First and Second World Wars, Korea, Afghanistan and peacekeeping missions. Along with the fallen, the conflicts have claimed countless other casualties to physical injuries and mental issues that have robbed them of a normal life after their service.
That fact was not lost on nine-year-old Jim McIntosh, a New Brunswick resident whose great grandfather John Tucker lived in Debert and was a Second World War veteran.
“It’s good to remember them because they freed our country in many wars,” McIntosh said.
McIntosh wrote a poem for his grandfather titled ‘Memories Stay’ and read it at the ceremony after also laying a wreath on the cenotaph in his honour.
“I wanted to read it here,” he said. “He helped other Canadians free our country.”
It was just he kind of day Canada’s veterans fought for us to enjoy, with a warm sun and cloudless sky helping to produce a large crowd for the ceremony, which blocked Plains Road, the main strip through the community.
Danny Martell, a 73-year-old Lower Debert resident who served a peacekeeping tour in Egypt, was happy to see so many come out to honour Canada’s veterans.
“It was a wonderful crowd,” he said.
Even though he served in the prestigious Black Watch and Canada’s Signal Corps, Martell said he was always in awe of war veterans during his service with Debert’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 106.
“In my early years in the Legion there were an awful lot of veterans I worked with on the different committees and it just felt good standing beside those gentlemen,” he said.
Martell said he especially gained appreciation for their sacrifices after serving in Egypt, where he learned just how privileged Canadians are.
“You see people living in shanties that we wouldn’t keep a dog in here in Canada,” he said. “It makes you very proud to be Canadian and of what our veterans fought and died for.”