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News - All - 13 Nov 2017

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Veterans: 13 Nov 2017
Crowds gather at local cenotaphs to remember

Wreaths are placed at the base of the Kitchener cenotaph during the Remembrance Day ceremony Saturday. - Mathew McCarthy,Record staff

WATERLOO REGION The frosty air did not deter crowds from gathering at Remembrance Day ceremonies across Waterloo Region Saturday morning as hundreds came to local cenotaphs to remember.

In Kitchener, at the corner of Frederick and Duke Streets, the crowd included families and children bundled in snowsuits to remember the war dead and honour those in the military for their service.

For Lina Baillairge of Kitchener, it's the first time she's attended a Remembrance Day ceremony, and she was glad she did.

"It was beautiful," she said after the ceremony.

She brought a Canadian flag with her and felt it was her duty to mark the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele, an offensive fought by British, Canadian and other Commonwealth soldiers against German forces during the First World War, from July to November 1917.

"I believe in peace. This flag represents peace," Baillairge said. "It's a sad and depressing world. It's unsettling."

The ceremony at the Kitchener cenotaph began with the reading of the names of fallen soldiers. The reading of the names, which took about 30 minutes, is a sombre reminder of "those who have paid the supreme sacrifice," said Rev. Canon Christopher Pratt.

In his address to the crowd, Pratt reminded the group that as Canadians, "we have a responsibility" to remember. It is those who served who have brought liberty, freedom and justice to Canada, he said.

"It is this story that needs to be told over and over again," he said.

Pratt also reminded the crowd that they stood on traditional native land and that this, too, is "our story to know and honour."

Pratt said wearing a poppy "is not the litmus test of citizenship" but rather the wearer of the poppy "stands for the stories of commitment and sacrifice."

"It's the story of Canada," he said. "May we celebrate our identity and remember the sacrifices made for us to give us freedom to be here today."

Music was offered by the Waterloo Regional Police Chorus and the Waterloo Regional Police Band. Wreaths were presented by various local groups at the foot of the cenotaph.

Police, firefighters, cadets and others marched off at the end of the ceremony as the song "Highway of Heroes" by The Trews played. The crowd clapped as the parade left the cenotaph.

Teresa Maki and her 11-year-old daughter, Ella, attended the ceremony. Maki's 13-year-old daughter is a cadet, and a student from South Korea who lives with the family is also a local cadet.

"I videotaped her to show her parents," Maki said.

"For me, Remembrance Day is freedom. I value my freedom. I value that I'm safe and I don't live in a war-torn country," she said.

Jeff Vanderzwaag of Kitchener brought his two daughters along to the ceremony. He hasn't attended Remembrance Day activities in years and decided this year, with it being on a weekend, he was going to mark the special day.

"They (the girls) need to know what happened," he said.

His younger brother is in the Canadian Armed Forces, stationed in Manitoba. He served a nine-month stint in Afghanistan.

"I think of him every day," he said.

by Liz Monteiro

Liz Monteiro can be reached via Twitter @MonteiroRecord
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Liz Monteiro Waterloo Region Record/AA

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