Wreaths laid for Transcona veterans ahead of holidays

A previous Winnipeg wreath-laying ceremony. FILE/Global News

Remembrance Day may have been last month, but some Transcona residents keep fallen veterans in their thoughts during the holiday season.

Couple Peter and Audrey Martin organized an informal wreath-laying ceremony at the Transcona Cemetery Sunday, bringing together dozens of community members to lay wreaths on each of the 325 veterans’ graves.

The veterans entombed in the cemetery served in the First or Second World Wars, but died back home in Canada.

“It’s about recognition this time of the year. We’re getting into the Christmas season, the holiday season,” Peter Martin said. “We’re thinking of the families of these soldiers who suffered and these people who never got to celebrate again. It’s a festive season for many, but it’s also solemn.”

This is the fourth year the Martins have been involved in the event, and the second year they organized it themselves. Non-profit Wreaths Across Canada donated the wreaths for the first two years, but the organization had to curb its spending. The Martins then took over, encouraging their Transcona community to pitch in.

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Susan Pelletier was out with her family laying wreaths in the cold December air Sunday.

READ MORE: Legion distributes about 20 million poppies a year to Canadians

“It matters… We’re here safe because of all these people,” Pelletier said. “The further and further away we are from the wars that have happened so long ago, they’re being forgotten more and more.

“It’s up to the younger generation and us to just keep it going… They gave their lives, a huge sacrifice, for us to be free and to be able to come out and do this today.”

Younger people like her niece Hannah Chambers.

“I’m so lucky to have what I have,” Chambers said. “It’s super important that my generation especially really thinks hard about that.”

But 119 Transcona soldiers didn’t make it back from the First and Second World Wars — instead, they were buried in Europe. Martin wants to change that, at least in spirit.

He’s working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Veterans Affairs Canada to have 119 tombstones installed in the cemetery.

“You don’t need to have a body to have some recognition,” Peter Martin said. “We’ll make it happen.”

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Veterans march at Winnipeg Remembrance Day Ceremony – Nov 11, 2019

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