Mark Blais, Legion Branch 517 Petawawa First Vice and Poppy Campaign Chair, addresses the large crowd. Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post
A lit candle waits for others to join it. (Bottom photo) Tom Brushett honoured his father Tom Brushett Senior, brother Gord Brushett Junior and uncle Gord Brushett Senior. Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post
The symbolic table sits empty, waiting for diners who will never come. Each element has a deep meaning. Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post
After the Armistice Dinner on Nov. 9, people gathered at the cenotaph to pay tribute to those who passed in a candlelight ceremony. Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post
Legion hosts Armistice Dinner, Candlelight ceremony
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday November 18, 2021
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old, and they will never be forgotten.
This belief is one that the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 517 Petawawa continues to fiercely uphold.
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), past and present, and their loved ones attended the annual Armistice Dinner on Nov. 9 and commemorated those who lost their lives or experienced mental or physical injuries in conflicts, wars and on peacekeeping missions over the past decades. It also honoured those left behind and those who still serve in the CAF.
It is an evening filled with tradition and symbolism.
On the Legion’s stage stood an empty table set for four guests, representing the soldiers, the aviators, the sailors and the merchant mariners who will never return home.
Upon the white linen was placed a lemon to remember the bitterness of war, a salt shaker to remember the tears shed and roses to honour the family members. Headdresses from each CAF branch were carefully placed on the table next to empty glasses and plates, representing those who would never dine again with their comrades and friends.
No more World War I veterans remain, and the number of World War II and Korean War veterans is dwindling each passing day.
“A lot of them are gone, but the torch is being passed to a younger generation of veterans that are no less committed to us and our freedom,” said Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski. “We honour the sacrifice of those who did not return in a very special way.”
Mark Blais, First Vice and Poppy Campaign Chair, was pleased to see so many in attendance.
For many, this was the first time they gathered together in many months, and their continued support has allowed the Legion to thrive.
“There is a lot of work involved in the Poppy Campaign, so thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Blais to all.
Following the dinner was the Candlelight Ceremony, which saw attendees file to the cenotaph one by one, red candles in their hands. Each of these candles represented a lost loved one, family member, friend or comrade.
As people placed their candles upon the stone, the Canadian Military Wives Choirs Petawawa were there to lend their beautiful voices to the sombre affair. The flickering light illuminated their faces.
The candles remained on the monument until Nov. 11 and were removed for the Remembrance Day Ceremony.