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Veterans gather for Remembrance Day in Harrow


by Adam Gault

Clear skies and warm fall weather greeted veterans and their families who gathered at the Harrow Veterans Memorial Park on Wednesday, November 11, for a slightly different, but no less meaningful, Remembrance Day ceremony.

  Harrow’s Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 338) led the modified COVID-restrictive service, which did not feature any area cadets or public school students. Veterans and members of the public in attendance were strongly encouraged to wear masks and to ensure physical spacing of six-feet.

  Father Paul Innes of the Harrow Legion emceed the ceremony, thanking those in attendance for paying their respects. He noted many Legions around the country had forgone with in-person Remembrance Day events for 2020, explaining that with the blessing of Legion Command, 338 had been given the greenlight to go ahead as it was the right thing to do.

  The ceremony was also an opportunity to remember the five Harrow Legion members who had passed away since Remembrance Day 2019; Ron Reese, George Tuer, Ron McDonald, Richard Pollard, and Shawn Dennis.

  “Here in this community, we mourn the loss of compatriots,” Innes said. “All of these individuals were faithful members of Branch 338. We’ve mourned their loss, but their spirits still live on in each one of us.”

  Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche spoke at the ceremony, highlighting the importance of November 11 in remembering Canada’s Veterans throughout its history, and the importance of the sacrifice they made in ensuring freedom not just at home, but around the world.

  “Today is the day we have put aside to remember our Vets, both living and passed,” Meloche said. “We praise the Lord, and thank God our Almighty Father. Thank our Vets, past and present, for giving us peace here in Harrow, in the Town of Essex, the County of Essex, in our beautiful Province of Ontario, in our great country, Canada, that we do not have war on our national soils, nor on our doorsteps.”

  Stories were shared of the great scars, both physical and mental, the toll warfare can take on a soldier, and the long-lasting impact it can take on their lives when returning home in feeling they have nowhere to turn for support, with combat still claiming lives long after the guns fall silent.

  “Kevin gave his life. Not in one bloody awful moment, but over time. When he came back. Kevin needed help. He didn’t get it,” Harrow United Reverend Darrow Woods said of an extended family member, who took his own life after returning from service in Afghanistan. “He didn’t get the support he needed and deserved. That he had earned. His living, and his slow dying, became unbearable to him and he chose to end it. Before he did, there was hurt and pain enough to go around and touch every person in his life. Kevin leaves behind a young child, who may not actually have memories of their father. That pain, that sacrifice, continues even though for Kevin it has ended.”

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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