Global News was in the crowd and among the veterans who attended Wednesday’s Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa. For some, it is a yearly pilgrimage to Ottawa to stand near the War Memorial as the country remembers its fallen servicemen and women. For others, this year was the first time they had attended.
Here’s a glimpse at some of what they had to say.
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Now 92 and living in Peterborough, Newell is a veteran of the Second World War who participated in several major battles, including the Rhine Crossing in 1945. He recalled that he and seven of his comrades were hurt in that battle and five died.
“We’d been together for four years,” Newell recalled. “It’s hard and it still brings the tears when I think about it. Because they sacrificed everything … They were so young.”
Newell said he saw a lot of action on the battlefield and was wounded a total of three times. For him, seeing young faces in the crowd on Wednesday was especially important.
“Children are taught what they owe to those who gave up their lives. It makes me feel good, makes me feel it was worthwhile.”
For Pateman, there was a very personal connection to the War Memorial itself. The man who designed it, Vernon March, lived in Pateman’s hometown in England.
“To me there’s a connection between this memorial and where I come from in the UK.”
After attending local Remembrance Day events in Thunder Bay, where he now resides, Pateman said he felt it was time to come to Ottawa.
“I wanted to actually experience the national feeling,” he said. “I have family who came here before the Great War and fought in the Great War in the Canadian Army.”
Pateman’s great uncle fought at Vimy Ridge, he said, and after being shot, recounted a remarkable story of survival to his descendants.
“What saved his life was that he had a letter in his pocket from his wife. That stopped the bullet. And to this day that letter hasn’t been read. It’s still folded up with the bullet hole and a bit of blood around the edges. So I’ll be thinking of Frank at 11 o’clock.”
An Egyptian national, Ghalib is currently in Canada attending Carleton University. He said he felt it was important to come down and participate in Wednesday’s ceremony to honour the fallen.
“It’s my fifth year here in Canada,” he explained.
“I came here as an immigrant, and I really see how involved the Canadian community is in honouring the veterans who fought in the World Wars … Although I’m not Canadian, I would want to be one day, obviously.”
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After serving more than 18 years in the Royal Canadian Navy, Bailey recently moved to Ottawa from Halifax. He was attending the national Remembrance Day ceremony for the first time.
‘I’m thinking about a lot of things,” he said. “My father, my grandfather.”
Bailey served in Afghanistan, helped deliver humanitarian aid in Haiti, and received a special service medal for his time with NATO.
“It seems to me to be a little bit more of an auspicious place to be,” he said of the national ceremony. “Not taking away from any other ceremonies, but it seems to be more of a privilege to attend with so many dignitaries.”
Armstrong, from Ottawa, said she attends the ceremony at the national War Memorial every single year.
“It’s a small sacrifice to pay for the ultimate sacrifice that others have paid before us,” she told Global News.
“I come to this (ceremony) I think because there’s a lot of history and I think more of a personal connection for me. My grandfather used to come here.”
Sam and Shelly Hanuka
The young brother-sister duo said they were very happy to be attending Wednesday ceremony, with Shelly explaining that Canadian soldiers “risked their lives to keep us alive … so we wanted to show respect for them.”
Her brother said that, for him, “it’s very important” to remember.
“I’m thinking about the soldiers that fought. About the need to stay together and to remember and to never forget.”