(WINDSOR, ON) – Overnight, this area’s temperatures reached depths never before experienced in Windsor. The record-setting cold seemed to make no difference to the hundreds who made their way to the downtown Cenotaph on November 11.
As one participant told The Square, standing outside on a cold morning was the least that could be done to honour the many Canadian military members who fought valiantly in both world wars and other conflicts.
Erected in 1924, the Cenotaph has stood for almost 100 years as a symbol of remembrance for the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who proudly wore Canadian military uniforms. Remembrance Day was inaugurated by King George V in 1919, following the armistice which officially ended the First World War, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Initially the day was commemorated in Commonwealth countries, but has spread to others as well.
Many of the attendees at Windsor’s ceremony, estimated to be the largest turnout in recent years, were also in uniform, representing the three branches of Canada’s Armed Forces as well as uniformed police officers and firefighters, and right down to the boy scouts.
Of the many political speakers, Windsor West MP Brian Masse seemed best able to wrap up the sentiment of the morning in a few carefully selected words. He talked of people wearing the ubiquitous poppies because, “of the unconditional gift to them from people they never knew.”
And although most of the reflections that were heard talked of bravery and courage and the devastation of war, Reverend Stan Fraser brought a different perspective to the morning.
There were, he relayed to the participants, days of camaraderie that had nothing to do with battles. In one situation, a group of soldiers in a faraway land snuck into a chalet and enjoyed its wine cellar.
As he spoke, three single engine planes roared overhead. The aircraft were typical of the early years of the 20th Century, before jet engines became the norm. Those gathered stopped to observe.
The city’s mayor, Drew Dilkens, was absent and, instead, traveled to Ypres in Belgium for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele.