Reginans honour veterans with Remembrance Day ceremonies

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Reginans honour veterans with Remembrance Day ceremonies
WATCH: Despite the wintery weather, hundreds of people gathered at Victoria Park in downtown Regina to pay their respects and remember the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Ian Duffy tells us how this year, many found extra appreciation for a day that is already filled with gratitude – Nov 11, 2021

Regina residents paid their respects to veterans on Remembrance Day at several events throughout the city.

A ceremony at the Saskatchewan Legislature War Memorial featured The Royal Regina Rifles and a 21 gun salute.

A legion-led event at the cenotaph at Victoria Park had hundreds of attendees of all ages.

Reverend James Balfour says this year’s ceremony held special meaning.

“One of the things that made today’s ceremony so much more poignant was the presence of all of the members of the Canadian military, the nurses that are here in Saskatchewan, helping out in the midst of the pandemic,” Balfour said.

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“That goes back to that oath that you take when you join the military: serve Canada before self,” he added.

Balfour is a retired lieutenant commander in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve and said the ceremony had a “wonderful turnout.”

“It was heartening to see that this still matters and it means something to people,” Balfour said.

“I think about people that I know when I was in the military and into chaplaincy, I think about people that I know that came back from Afghanistan and came back and they weren’t the same people that left.”

Click to play video: 'Remembrance Day 2021: The story of Canada’s most decorated Indigenous soldier'
Remembrance Day 2021: The story of Canada’s most decorated Indigenous soldier

Balfour said he also thinks about his grandfather and uncles who served and all of his compatriots that continue to serve.

“Remembrance Day isn’t just about remembering wars, it’s about remembering service and sacrifice and putting something before your self-interest,” Balfour added.

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At the ceremony, Balfour spoke about gratitude and later told reporters it rings more true these past two years.

“I think after these last 19 months, it’s just really nice to be able to get together with other people, but (also) it’s important to get together and remember all of those people that work to get us back to this point,” Balfour said.

Navy League of Canada Vice-President Gordon Basaraba said he’d also like to see people remember the sacrifices that were made by others to gain freedom.

Basaraba was also satisfied with Thursday’s turnout.

“I’m hoping we’re coming out of our pandemic and I’m hoping this is kind of the first step to getting people back out and getting into the communities,” Basaraba said.

“I’m happy to see, with the weather that we’ve had today, how many people actually did come out to Victoria Park for the service, it just shows how resilient and how strong the people of Regina are.”

Basaraba said Remembrance Day for him is spent remembering the people he served with who were a lot older than him and no longer alive.

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“I had an uncle who was in the Korean War and has passed away, and this is our day that we think of him and his sacrifice,” Basaraba added.

Basaraba said he was happy to see all the young people who came out.

“I think it’s really important for our young people to understand the sacrifices that were made.”

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