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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

We Will Remember Them: Honouring Veterans, Fallen Soldiers

Updated: Nov 16

by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative

Photos submitted by Christine Hayes

At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, Essex paused – with hundreds of residents surrounding the cenotaph – to honour and recognize the sacrifices Canadian Veterans and Fallen Soldiers made to ensure freedoms.

Starting with a parade from the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201), the Remembrance Day event was hosted not to glorify war, but for a world that would be free and at peace, Essex Legion Past President, Dan Gray, said.

Legion Padre Kim Gilliland hoped the gathering at the Essex Centre cenotaph on Saturday – in addition to the thoughts and prayers offered everywhere – would “help move our world one step closer to the peace of your kingdom.”

“Why are we here?” Essex Legion Past President, Erroll Caza, asked rhetorically during the ceremony. “242. That is the number of our fellow Essex citizens whose names are carved and etched on the monuments before you to permanently remember exactly who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms we enjoy as a free and democratic society.”

In hundreds of towns and cities “across our great country, simultaneous Remembrance Day ceremonies are being conducted. At these ceremonies, cenotaphs and monuments reflect the names of all 116,063 Canadians who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It is a perpetual symbol to ensure we will always identify and remember them, and a reminder of what the real cost of freedom really [is].”

Caza noted there were those at the ceremony wearing a uniform, such as representatives of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment, who gathered around the cenotaph.

“To all our veterans – past and present – thank you for your sacrifice and thank you for your service,” Caza said. “We will always remember them.”

During the ceremony, several wreaths were placed at the base of the cenotaph, on behalf of the Country, Province, County of Essex, Town of Essex, Branch 201 Veterans, Essex Kent and Scottish, RCNA Windsor, the Essex Legion Branch 201 and its Ladies’ Auxiliary, in memory of Veterans, and on behalf of service clubs.

Caza also thanked Essex Mayor Sherry Bondy and Council for allowing the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion to provide the opportunity to organize the local Remembrance Day ceremony.

Gray also thanked all the reps of the groups who attended the event to enhance the service.

Leading up to Remembrance Day, the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion asked residents to stand vigil at the Essex cenotaph for one-hour slots as a show of remembrance. Caza noted volunteers made the vigil last 30-hours leading up to the ceremony.

Later that afternoon, the Essex Legion hosted another Remembrance Day event in Cottam.

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