Youth pay respects at Waverley Park
By Doug Diaczuk
It was an unusually warm November morning on Sunday and the threat of a late fall rain shower that hung in the grey sky was not enough to keep hundreds of people from gathering at Waverly Park to pay their respects to the men and women who braved far worse and sacrificed so much.
They gathered around the Port Arthur Cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremony, and the many young faces in the crowd were not only a somber reminder of the countless young men and women who went off to war, but also that the memory of the sacrifices of war will carry on from one generation to another.
Cory Pollock, chairman of the Remembrance Day Service for Thunder Bay’s north side, said he was glad the rain held off and that so many people came out to pay their respects.
The ceremony included the laying of wreaths by various community groups, a march of the Old Guard and New Guard, and a fly past. A memorial service was held at St. Paul’s Church after the ceremony.
Roy Lamore, a Second World War Navy veteran and past president of Royal Canadian Legion Port Arthur Branch No. 5, said he, too, was pleased with the turnout and encouraged by the young faces in the crowd.
“The school kids are showing up,” he said. “It’s good to see all of this. It proves that they still remember and they believe in Remembrance Day.”
Pollock added that in previous years, an American veteran who has attended the service at Waverly Park commented on how many young people attend the ceremony, which shows the level of patriotism in Canada.
“You look out here and you see all these young people,” Pollock said. “That is a big factor for us and it is even recognized by American veterans.”
Lamore said the young faces also serve as a sad reminder that so many of the men and women who gave their lives during the First and Second World Wars were just kids themselves.
“This is where things start setting in,” he said.
“At the start of the Second World War, kids 18, 19, and 20 years old were leaving, that was the ages they went, out of the schools and into the service, and a lot of them didn’t come back.”
Clayton Godlien said he has attended the service at Waverly Park for several years with his two children. He said that as his children grow up, he wants them to know what Canadians do to show respect to the veterans who gave so much.
“Whether you agree with what’s happened in the past or not, it’s important that we remember the people who did go through the effort and the families that were left behind, of the people who did not make it through,” he said. “It’s important that every generation continues to know what actually happened.”
The rains were kept at bay on Sunday, but for the veterans, nothing can stop the flood of memories that come along on such an important day, memories that are to be shared so that we may never forget.
“This brings back all the memories,” Lamore said.
“It should never, never be forgotten. People at that young age, and mothers and fathers, all lost their lives through this conflict.”