PARRSBORO – One hundred years after the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, this community took the time today to remember the sacrifices made by Canadians, then and now.
In a ceremony moved inside at the Parrsboro legion, due to cold weather, wreaths were laid and names of the dead from two world wars read aloud by army veteran Man Forbes.
The ceremony at the legion was packed for the occasion, as members of the public laid numerous wreaths and crosses, with escort from local air cadets.
Leading the service was legion member Martin Langford, who spoke particularly about Vimy, “Canada’s coming of age,” where almost 4,000 were lost and 7,000 wounded during the three-day battle, and Passchendaele, the “bloodiest and muddiest battle of the war,” where more than 4,000 Canadians were killed and 12,000 wounded.
“Today, it’s hard for us to comprehend casualty figures like this,” said Langford. “We were rightfully horrified at the loss of 159 Canadians in the 10-year campaign in Afghanistan.”
While official figures give 2,000 wounded in Afghanistan, Langford said that does not include those whose experiences have permanently affected their mental health, a number believed to be about one in 10 of the 40,000 personnel deployed.
“What is certain is that we must remember the debt we owe to those who risk their lives on our behalf, to defend the freedoms we enjoy and often take for granted,” he said.
He pointed to the suffering by refugees and displaced persons in countries like Iraq, Syria and Yemen, as a reminder of how privileged we are to live here, and said we only need to look back at our 150-year history as a nation to remind ourselves of the cost of that privilege.
“So, today, as we do every year at this time, we honour those that stand on guard for us, and have stood on guard for Canada in the past,” said Langford. “As we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we must also renew our commitment to care for those who sacrificed their physical and mental health for us.”