RCD members marched to the town hall led by their Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Rob Marois. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
An exchange of gifts marked the friendship between the town and The RCD. The military unit presented Mayor Sweet with a helmet to put on display while Sweet (centre) gave LCol Rob Marois (left) and Regimental Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Jeramie Leamon (right) a special certificate and the town’s official coins. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Member of The Royal Canadian Dragoons dressed in scarlet make their way to the town hall during the Freedom of the Town of Petawawa on June 15. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post))
The Royal Canadian Dragoons are steeped in tradition and history and are proud of the significant impact they have had in the Canadian Armed Forces. Their jewel, however, is always their guidon, which was unfurled as part of the parade. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Mayor of Petawawa Bob Sweet follows protocol only offering freedom of the town after he inspected the troops. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Freedom of the Town of Petawawa
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday July 4, 2019
The Freedom of the Town is rarely offered so it was a historical moment for the Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) to be given this honour in Petawawa.
They marched through Petawawa dressed in scarlet, their Commander sitting atop a horse and the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (2 CMBG) Pipes and Drums playing proudly.
But before they could receive this honour, they had to follow a traditional pantomime that saw them stop before the municipal offices.
There they were halted and questioned by Upper Ottawa Valley Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Detachment Commander Inspector Stephan Neufield before Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel (LCol) Rob Marois was accompanied to the town hall.
As is tradition, he knocked loudly on a wooden plank, symbolizing the wooden doors of old, and only then did Mayor Bob Sweet appear, bestowing the official Freedom of the Town.
It was a moment that will be remembered by the Dragoons.
“We are truly honoured to be receiving the Freedom of the Town,” said LCol Marois. “We live, train and deploy from Petawawa since 1948 and since those early days, we continue to share a close bond with support for our Regiment being felt every single day.”
He considered the residents of Petawawa to be extended members of the Regimental family and to mark the occasion on June 15, he and his Regimental Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Jeramie Leamon presented the Mayor with a gift, an RCD helmet.
“It will serve to remind all of us of our strong relationship,” said LCol Marois. In return, the Mayor had a gift of his own to present the Dragoons, a certificate and the town’s coins mounted and framed together.
“Today marks a historical moment for our community,” said Sweet, “one that we are delighted to be involved in. It is our privilege to extend the Freedom of the Town to all members of The Royal Canadian Dragoons.”
The Mayor and his council are extremely proud of the cooperation between the unit and the town.
The bravery demonstrated by the Dragoons is evident as they’ve valiantly participated in countless battles throughout their history. They’ve received numerous accolades and battle honours including three Victoria Crosses.
“Regardless of their operational area, The Royal Canadian Dragoons’ service members and their predecessors have served with distinction and professionalism, motivated by humanity and compassion going beyond the call of duty to assist those that need it in conflict areas,” said Sweet.
For all of this and more, it was an easy decision for Sweet to give the Dragoons the Freedom of the Town.
The symbolism behind this act is rife with meaning. It is a tradition that harkens back to the medieval walled cities, where one needed special permission to enter and leave at will. To receive the Freedom of the City meant to be a trusted individual. For military units, it is especially meaningful as it grants them the privilege to march into a city or town with “with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed.” It is only given to regiments who have shown themselves to be the most professional, and the most dedicated.
“The fact that the military and civilian community has come together to celebrate this rich history is indeed a reflection of the relationship forged between our communities,” said Sweet. “We are indeed fortunate to have such a great relationship with our military neighbours.”