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Essex shows respect, gratitude to veterans


by Sylene Argent

While attending this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony at the local cenotaph, members of the Essex community bowed their heads and reflected on the courage brave men and women displayed when fighting for the freedoms still enjoyed today.

  “It is very enjoyable, as a Veteran, to see the turnout today, despite the COVID restriction,” Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201) President, Erroll Caza, said looking around the crowd that gathered at the cenotaph, in a socially distanced manner, to pay their respects last Wednesday morning.

  Caza noted since 1918, “Commonwealth countries have proudly stood and gathered to remember our fallen Veterans and show respect to our militaries for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

  Historically significant battles and events, “become the sub-theme in order to never forget the tumultuous turmoil and sacrifices our Veterans experienced in times of war.”

  This year’s Remembrance Day was especially significant as it marked the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII. He said Canada played a vital role in that War, alongside its allies, ensuring democracy was victorious.

  In addition, 2020 also marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, “whose citizens have been forever grateful to the Canadians who were pivotal in their freedom ever since.”

  Caza also reflected on the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment lost 75percent of its 553 service personnel at the Battle of Dieppe. “Whole crews of merchant Navy sailors were lost at sea, and numerous aircrews were downed by anti-aircraft fire. Close to 100 women, mostly nurses and medical staff, were lost, mainly in field medical facilities.”   

  He also spoke of the commitment to democracy Essex showed in the past. During the years of 1939 and 1945, Essex’s population was around 2000. Between 150 and 200 of those citizens, “donned the uniform for the fight for freedom.” 44 of Essex’s finest paid the ultimate sacrifice during WWII, he said.

  “The Town of Essex has always stepped up when the call of duty was needed, even to this day,” Caza commented, recognizing Corporal Joe McLeod for his service in Afghanistan. Current serving personnel and veterans were then recognized with a round of applause.

  Those in attendance also took a moment to remember the local Veterans who passed this year. “We honour these individuals today,” Caza said.

  Due to COVID, the Essex Legion made a few alternative arrangements to the ceremony, which included laying wreaths to represent local organizations and Veterans before the event began.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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