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Silent vigil show appreciation to Veterans


Tim and Norma O’Hagan take their post at the cenotaph for their 1am silent vigil.

by Sylene Argent

As a way to show appreciation to veterans and pay homage to fallen soldiers for the sacrifices made in the fight for freedom, the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201) hosted a silent vigil at the local cenotaph last week.

  Leading up the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month, area residents stood in silence at the base of the Essex Centre cenotaph for one-hour shifts. Because of the number of volunteers who signed up to participate in this show of appreciation, the event was able to extend over a 31-hour period.  

  “The community of Essex gathers each year to pay homage to thank and remember our past and current Veterans. As a strong and very proud community, we can be relied upon to be proud of our Veterans and unashamedly express our pride and gratitude for the sacrifices of our Veterans,” Erroll Caza, President of the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201), said during the Remembrance Day ceremony.    

  Having 31 continuous hours of vigil duty standing at the base of the cenotaph, “Was a small token of their appreciation towards our Veterans,” he added.

  One of the silent vigil participants included Essex Councillor Kim Verbeek, who signed up to participate as a member of the Essex Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary. She wanted to participate in the vigil to show appreciation to all the brave men and women who fought for the freedoms enjoyed today.

  “It was very reflective to me,” she said of taking part in her one-hour volunteer shift.

  While standing at the base of the cenotaph, Verbeek said she reflected on the sacrifices made in wars of the past that preserved freedom, but her time at the local monument also had her thinking about the seniors at Iler Lodge, which is currently facing a COVID-19 outbreak.   

  Remembrance Day, Verbeek noted, is monumental for those who lived through the WWII era. COVID-19 has kept many seniors isolated since March, and now, with an outbreak at Iler Lodge, she thought about how difficult it must be for the residents there, and seniors around the area, to stay home while this year’s ceremonies took place.

  “This day is so significant for them,” Verbeek said of seniors and Remembrance Day. “Seniors across the County are suffering because of isolation. It is so significant for them to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies because they lived [during the WWII era].”

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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