'These people were given a job to do'

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POWASSAN – Ron Smith’s perspective of Remembrance Day changed slightly Saturday morning.

Snow was falling and wind was blowing in this community as members of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 453 were preparing to form up and march to the cenotaph for the community’s service.

“When I thought about the perseverance the veterans had to have, the hardships they had to go through, this is only mild compared to what they went through,” Smith said.

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“The pain, the suffering, the dying – those were the environments these people perceived,” he said. “The people whose names are on the cenotaph, the people who came home, they endured those conditions.”

And while the monument represent those who did not come home – there are 48 names on the cenotaph from the two world wars and peacekeeping missions – the focus, Smith said, has to include those who did return with injuries both visible and invisible.

“These people were given a job to do, and they did it.”

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Those who didn’t return, he said, left families behind who had to go on without their loved ones.

Paying tribute, he said, “is the least we can do.

“We remember the people who also had families, friends and potential futures. They had plans and goals, which were all brought to a devastating end.”

Daniel Taylor’s grandfather was killed during the Battle of the Somme in the First World War, while Taylor himself served with The Royal Canadian Regiment and the Royal Canadian Medical Corps following the Korean War.

His grandfather, he said, was awarded the Military Medal, one of the highest awards in the Commonwealth, in August, 1916. He was killed in the same area only three months later.

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Altogether, about one million men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner during the four-month battle, including 24,000 Canadians.

“They risked their lives for us to have a free country,” Jordan Carriere, a member of 204 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps said.

Many of those who fell weren’t much older than him, he said.

Six Remembrance Day ceremonies will be held Sunday, the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War.

In Callander, the parade will form up at the Legion at 9:30 then march to the cenotaph for 10:45 a.m.

In Mattawa, the parade will leave the Legion at 10:30 a.m. for the ceremony at the cenotaph at 11 a.m.

Nipissing First Nation will assemble for the ceremony at the community centre in Garden Village at 10:30 a.m., with the service at the cenotaph at 11 a.m.

North Bay will host a ceremony at Memorial Gardens starting at 10:45 a.m.

A parade will form at the Trout Creek fire hall at 10:45 a.m., marching to the cenotaph, while the West Ferris Legion Branch 599 will host a ceremony at the legion hall beginning at 10:30 a.m.