Large crowd packs Halifax’s Grand Parade for Remembrance Day

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Large crowd packs Halifax’s Grand Parade for Remembrance Day
WATCH: Large crowd packs Halifax’s Grand Parade for Remembrance Day – Nov 11, 2018

A historic military square in downtown Halifax overflowed with people gathering in the wind to remember and reflect upon the past and present effects of war.

Sunday’s Remembrance Day ceremony in Grand Parade began with a procession and a 21-gun salute, and ended with the placing of wreaths on the square’s cenotaph.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia students to mark Remembrance Day honouring graves of Canadian soldiers in The Gambia

Peter Augustus, a veteran with 30 years in service, said serving with the Canadian Armed Forces is something of a family tradition: his son currently serves with the armed forces, and both of his grandfathers fought in the Second World War.

WATCH: Ceremonies across New Brunswick mark Remembrance Day Sunday

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Ceremonies across New Brunswick mark Remembrance Day Sunday

Augustus said he has the privilege of owning all of the medals they received for their service, which he displays in a shadow box in his basement.

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“I reflect upon them on this day every year,” he said. “I just appreciate everything we have today because of those two great guys.”

Remembrance Day marked Augustus’s 10th anniversary of retiring from service.

Reading from a statement written by Ken Hynes, a former soldier and curator of the Army Museum Halifax Citadel, master of ceremonies Jay Tofflemire said the First World War carries with it grim statistics and staggering numbers.

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3,000 of the 30,000 Nova Scotians who volunteered for service overseas a century ago never came home, and the city of Halifax was also devastated in 1917 when the Norwegian ship SS Imo collided with the explosives-laden French vessel SS Mont-Blanc, causing the Halifax Explosion and killing 2,000 people.

“Given the scale of loss that our nation has endured in the past 100 years, the old expression ‘Lest We Forget’ is meaningless unless we take action to ensure that our warriors for peace and justice never become merely a faded photograph in mouldering frames,” said Tofflemire, the first vice-president of the Royal Canadian Legion, Nova Scotia and Nunavut Command.

More than a dozen wreaths were laid at the Grand Parade cenotaph by organizations and dignitaries, including those from the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia, Halifax Regional Police, Halifax Fire and Emergency Services, and a number of honorary consuls.

WATCH: Former military member honours veterans at Halifax business

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Former military member honours veterans at Halifax business

In addition to lives lost in war, Canadians must also think of those continuing to struggle with its long-lasting impacts, said 14-year-old Sara Pluta.

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During the ceremony she read a poem she wrote about a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, which Veterans Affairs Canada estimates can affect up to 10 per cent of war zone veterans.

“I wanted to do something that could help someone,” said Pluta, who was inspired by a commercial raising awareness about veterans with PTSD.

She said she entered her poem, “My PTSD,” in a contest from the Royal Canadian Legion and won first place.

“I didn’t want to do something about a poppy that I’ve done other years,” she said. “I wanted to see if I could make a change with my poem.”

Pluta said she doesn’t have a personal connection to PTSD, but she’s heard from veterans who say her words ring true.

Halifax is also taking part in Bells of Peace, a country-wide initiative involving the ringing of bells at sunset from city halls, community centres and places of worship.

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