For the first time in two years, Remembrance Day services were allowed to take place in-person at cenotaphs and other war memorials. Hundreds of people gathered in Kingston, Brockville and Belleville to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Cross of Sacrifice was a central point in Kingston for gatherers. In attendance was veteran Matthew Tofflemire, who served three tours in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan in the early 2000s. For him, Nov. 11 is a day filled with mixed emotions.
“You know, you see people wearing their poppies, see uniforms, start hearing bagpipes, the last post, all these things bring up a lot of memories. So it can be hard for a soldier or a sailor or an aircrew woman to experience these. But at the same time, as they spoke about today, there’s gratitude, you know?” said Tofflemire.
Ethel Quesnel is one of the last surviving widows of a World War II veteran in the region, and she laid the silver cross during the ceremony.
“A lot of them gave their lives and left their loved ones back home and they never came back,” said Quesnel.
In Brockville, people gathered in the city’s centre to honour and remember family, friends and neighbours. The ability to gather is a welcoming sight compared to last year for veterans.
“I was here last year and you could count the number on your hand. this year there was an excellent crowd considering COVID,” said Ted Hughes, a veteran.
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Crowds were also large in Belleville at the city’s cenotaph.
People of all ages came to pause and remember as Belleville firefighters stood on trucks to salute.
“I pay tribute to my father and his many, many friends that he garnered over the year,” said John Gee, a former Reservist.
From region to region, people reunited on Nov. 11 to honour the fallen, those who have served and those who continue to serve our country to this day.