Students join Remembrance Day ceremonies in Walkerton, Mildmay

WALKERTON – Remembrance Day 2022 marked 104 years since the armistice was signed at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, that ended First World War hostilities. It’s been 80 years since Dieppe in the Second World War.

Although marked in some form since 1919, when King George V called on all countries in the British Empire to observe Armistice Day, which officially became Remembrance Day in 1931, this year was a first in many ways, at least locally.

This was the first time since the outbreak of COVID that crowds of school children have gathered at the cenotaph, to place wreaths and poppies. The band from Walkerton District Community School was a welcome participant in this year’s ceremony at both Walkerton and Mildmay. A group of students from Sacred Heart High School marched with colour guard, military and emergency services personnel in Walkerton.

The strong presence of the young people, who stood solemnly with older folk for the ceremony, speaks volumes for the continued importance of Remembrance Day.

In Walkerton, Rabbi Steven Schonblum gave the invocation, reflection and benediction. Schonblum called on everyone to “understand our differences and grow to love each other.”

In Schonblum’s absence, Parade Marshal Phil Englishman stepped in to fill that function in Mildmay. As a “hidden child” in the Nazi occupation of Holland in the Second World War, Englishman said that had it not been for the Canadian Armed Forces, “I wouldn’t be here.”

Rose Austin, president of Branch 102, Royal Canadian Legion, encouraged all those present to remember our veterans and thank them for their service.

MPP Lisa Thompson, present for the ceremony in Walkerton, urged everyone to “remember … 365 days a year.”

MP Ben Lobb, in Mildmay, commented on how great it was “to see our students out today.”

Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody thanked Branch 102 for keeping alive the “memory of their sacrifice.” He thanked the teachers of the three schools in Walkerton for teaching their students about Remembrance Day. And he thanked all those on active duty with the armed forces for their sacrifice.

Incoming South Bruce mayor Mark Goetz in Mildmay thanked all the volunteers “for putting this on today.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times