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‘Returned soldiers’ needed for Saint John Remembrance Day services

Click to play video 'SJ Remembrance Day official hopes more veterans partake in future Nov. 11 ceremonies' SJ Remembrance Day official hopes more veterans partake in future Nov. 11 ceremonies
WATCH: Once again several thousand people packed TD Station in Saint John for the annual Remembrance Day ceremony. As Andrew Cromwell reports one official hopes more veterans step forward to take an active role in the service – Nov 11, 2019

The chairman of the Saint John Remembrance Day Committee is hoping more veterans choose to take part in the popular annual ceremony at TD Station.

About 7,000 people packed Saint John’s largest arena to honour those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country as well as those who have served and those who continue to serve.

READ MORE: Amid Remembrance Day ceremonies, UN and NATO veterans offer reminder that help is available

The number of veterans who take an active role in the service is dwindling, according to Bernard Cormier.

“The modern-day soldier, sailor or airman doesn’t see themselves as being a veteran,” said Cormier.

“That word ‘veteran’ for some reason seems to be connected with First World War, Second World War, maybe Korean War.”

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Cormier says the ceremony needs younger, what he calls, ‘returned soldiers’ to take part to avoid the service from deteriorating.

He says those who have served and are no longer serving should consider themselves veterans.

“Whether you were in the reserve or regular force, whether you were in peacekeeping or battle or on a ship or on a jet — whatever — you are a veteran,” he said.

Click to play video 'Pipers continue to honour the fallen by playing at Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country' Pipers continue to honour the fallen by playing at Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country
Pipers continue to honour the fallen by playing at Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country – Nov 11, 2019

Second World War veteran Aubrey Moore joined the Canadian Merchant Navy at the age of 14. The now 92-year-old, who admits to lying about his age in order to enlist, has a great respect for those who have served.

“I am a supporter of the servicemen and women and I’m so proud,” Moore said.

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The Saint John ceremony also had an underlying theme of mental health.

READ MORE: Woodstock, N.B., honours Indigenous veterans ahead of Remembrance Day

Robert Burnett and his wife laid the Memorial Cross of Canada wreath.

It was in memory of their son Philip who lost his battle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2016. Burnett says more must be done to recognize and treat PTSD.

“They give them lots of pills and pills aren’t curing the ills,” Burnett said. “The politicians and the upper echelon don’t and didn’t realize that PTSD is an epidemic.”

Burnett’s son had completed two tours of Afghanistan before his death at the age of 46.