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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Veterans honoured in Woodslee

by Kyle Reid

Woodslee’s Libro Community Centre became a special place of remembrance last Saturday evening during the Woodslee Millen Group’s annual Honouring the Veterans event.

Each year, the Woodslee Millen Group hosts the event as a way of paying respect to local veterans and their sacrifices. This year, a special display leading into the dinning hall presented relics and photos of veterans that local families donated. This is the first year the group set up such a presentation. Woodslee Millen Group Club President, Donna Roubos, said she is hoping the display will become an annual feature at the event.

Roubos expressed her gratitude to everyone who volunteered and helped to organize the veteran’s dinner event.  The Belle River Girl Guides were on hand to honour the veterans with poetry readings and to serve up a pasta dinner for those in attendance.

“This is maybe the third year [the Girl Guides] attended,” Roubos said. “The veterans, they love to see the youth there and they always speak about that.”

The evening began with a memorial wreath placement ceremony by local groups, dignitaries, and, of course, the veterans.

Theresa Charbonneau, a local mother who lost her son in Afghanistan, also spoke at the event.

While organizers had planned to host World War II veteran Chandler Knutson as a special guest of honour, the 93-year-old veteran suffered a heart attack over the weekend and tragically died on Sunday.

For Roubos, Knutson’s passing drives home the importance of remembrance events.

“He was so excited about coming and we had a special chair for him,” Roubos said. “So many World War II vets are in their 90s and passing on now.”

Around 10 Korean War veterans attended the ceremony, along with others who served in the Vietnam War and the reserves. Roubos said her group was honoured to host them.

Honouring veterans is a matter Roubos is especially passionate about. Her father-in-law was forced into a labour camp in the Netherlands during World War II, making the matter very personal to her.

This was a particularly special event for the Woodslee Millen Group. The group recently acquired funding from the Town of Lakeshore to build a cenotaph at the Libro Community Centre, which is the main reason it formed.

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