News Local

Love freedom? Thank a veteran

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Dave Cormier, Royal Canadian Legion District G commander, addresses those who attended the annual veterans dinner held Saturday at the Pembroke Branch 72 of the Legion.

Dave Cormier, Royal Canadian Legion District G commander, addresses those who attended the annual veterans dinner held Saturday at the Pembroke Branch 72 of the Legion.

As time goes on and veterans age, it becomes more crucial they are remembered.

 

On Saturday afternoon, members of Pembroke Branch 72 of the Royal Canadian Legion, along with guests and VIPs, gathered to attend the annual veterans dinner, a chance to meet with old comrades and to honour the memories of those who are, or were, no longer here.

The dinner was held about a week before Veteran's Week, which runs Nov. 5-11.

Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski said this was his first Remembrance event for the year, which happens to be the 100th year of the battle of Vimy Ridge, one of the most significant events in Canadian history.

“We cannot forget that tremendous Canadian victory,” he said. “It changed the way Canadians looked at themselves, and the way the world looked at Canada.”

Yakabuski said since then, the Canadian military distinguished itself in two world wars, Korea, numerous peacekeeping missions and more recently Afghanistan and Iraq, and they continue to do so as they keep our country free and the world safe.

Pembroke Mayor Michael LeMay said he wanted to thank the Legion and its ladies auxiliary for all of their work they do for veterans, as well as supporting young people. This includes backing the army and air cadet programs, and holding Remembrance Day ceremonies within local schools.

Keynote speaker Dave Cormier, District G commander, Royal Canadian Legion, said with Veteran's Week approaching, it is time when all branches and all Canadians reflect on and honour those who have sacrificed and continue to defend Canada's values and freedoms.

“As our older veterans leave us and their presence diminishes, it is imperative that all Canadians and especially we, as Legion members, be tasked with the solemn duty to safeguard their memory,” he said.

“It is more important than ever for us to keep remembrance alive and to thank our veterans both old and new for their service.”

Cormier said over the years 2.3 million Canadians have served or are serving in uniform from both world wars to the present conflicts in the Middle East. Out of these, more than 117,000 gave their lives so others could continue to live in freedom and to be proud to be a Canadian.

He said currently, there are approximately 725,300 Canadian veterans, consisting of 75,900 who served in the Second World War, 9,100 Korean War veterans, 600,300 Gulf War, Vietnam and other support force veterans, and 40,000 Afghanistan veterans.

“By keeping Remembrance alive, we will reassure these veterans that we care,” Cormier said.

“Remember, it is the veteran, not the preacher, who gave us freedom of religion; it is the veteran, not the reporter, who gave us freedom of the press; it is the veteran, not the organizers, who gave us freedom to assemble; it is the veteran, not the lawyer, who gave us the right to a fair trial; and it was the veteran, not the politician, who preserved our right to vote,” he said. “All these things and more we sometimes take for granted, but they would not be possible if our veterans had not fought and died on the battlefield.”

Cormier encouraged everyone to thank a veteran when they get the chance.

“A veteran is someone who at one point in his life wrote a blank cheque made payable to the citizens of Canada, for an amount up to and including their life,” he said.

SUhler@postmedia.com