During the Remembrance Day program held at the Legion Hall on November 11, the 100 Bells of Peace were rung to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Jim Woodward, Legion president, co-ordinated the program in the Kamsack area and at 5:25 p.m. Woodward, with the help of members of the air cadet squadron, rang the bell 100 times.
“On November 11, 1918 when news broke of an Armistice to end the First World War, churches across the land responded by spontaneously ringing their bells,” said Woodward.
“With this news came joy and a sense of hope that eased a nation's fears and sorrow. As we commemorate Armistice 100, we, in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada, will emulate this moment through Bells of Peace ceremonies in communities across this country.
“As you witnessed tonight we as a Legion along with several churches rang the bells in Kamsack. The many participant groups will be recognized for their inputs here tonight.
“At the setting of the sun on Remembrance Day, bells were tolled 100 times at locations across the country. With each appeal, we were to remember the close to 61,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders killed.
“We were to honour the 172,000 wounded as well as the countless others who suffered invisible yet painful wounds.
“At these public ceremonies, we were to honour all who served in the Great War. And we will promise never to forget their sacrifices.
“As part of this initiative, we have also coordinated efforts with Veterans Affairs Canada to honour First World War veterans who rest, sometimes unnoticed, in ordinary cemeteries across the land. Young volunteers have worked very hard to seek out their graves and place small flags on them so they too can be recognized on Remembrance Day.
“Unfortunately our recent snow cover hampered this action in Kamsack. I would like to thank everyone for their participation in this special event.
“We Will Remember,” concluded Woodward.
Certificates of acknowledgement of participation in the 100 Bells of Peace initiative were presented by Woodward on behalf of the Legion to: Town of Kamsack, Kamsack RCMP, Royal Canadian Air Cadets No. 633, Kamsack United Church, Kamsack Anglican Church, St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church, St. Josephat’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, Parkland Evangelical Free Church, King Solomon Masonic Lodge, Kamsack Times, Major Tim Woodward (guest speaker), Keri Lindsay (piper), Eaglestone Lodge, Kamsack Nursing Home, Victoria School, Kamsack Comprehensive Institute, Village of Togo, Kamsack Royal Canadian Legion and the Hiawatha Chapter of the Eastern Star.
Piper Keri Lindsay led the march on the head table who were: Major Shannon Woodward, Major Tim Woodward, Cst. Ellen Ruf, Cst. Trevor Pieterese, Jim Woodward, Jean Woodward, Russell Brunt, Mayor Nancy Brunt, Betty Ruten and Rev. Stephen Ruten.
The program began following supper which was served by members of the Kamsack air cadets, and was presented by Norman Larson, emcee for the evening.
After saying “thank you” to the air cadets and cooks, Nancy Brunt was introduced to speak on behalf of the town.
“It is my honour and privilege to bring greetings from the Town of Kamsack and to welcome all here tonight. We are very fortunate to have a Legion here given the size of our community. “Many Legions throughout Canada have had to close operations due to a lack of support. The Legion is a veteran's organization and I needn't remind anyone of the significant role that all our veterans played in winning our freedom. As well we are very fortunate to have an active cadet program.
“One of the greatest privileges I have as mayor is being asked to participate in events, activities, services and initiatives connected to our local veterans, the men and women of our armed forces, those who continue to work towards peace today and those we have lost along the way. This November 11, as happens each year, we gather for Remembrance Day and this year we recognize the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, the day the ‘war to end all wars’ was over. The world was relieved that the slaughter and suffering would end. But it hasn't.
“It is our responsibility to honour those who have sacrificed so much.
“Thank you for our freedoms.
- Our freedom of speech.
- Our freedom of association.
- Our freedom of assembly.
- Our freedom of religion.
- Our freedom of movement.
“Today, Canadian service women and men continue to serve courageously in our military and on combat and peacekeeping missions in theatres around the world. While we all may understand the risks of war and of serving one's country with honour, pride and distinction, that knowledge alone can never be enough to make up for the emotional damage that combat deaths inflict on friends, families and loved ones.
“Nor is it enough to fill the void they leave. We gather today as we do every year in sadness, in mourning and in the faint hope that next year we will not be remembering any additional casualties of war,” Brunt concluded.
As guest speaker, Major Tim Woodward of Winnipeg began by thanking everyone for allowing him this opportunity to speak on this Centennial anniversary of the Armistice of the First World War.
“One hundred years ago this day, the guns fell silent marking the end of the Great War. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Normal citizens, many just teenagers or young adults travelled almost half way around the world to combat an enemy who sought to oppress the freedoms of sovereign nations. In total, over 600,000 Canadians went oversees in defense of the values and freedoms we as a country hold dear; unfortunately, 59,544 did not return.
“Recognizing there was a need to support returning soldiers from their oversees duties, the Great War Veterans Association was founded in 1917, which eventually evolved into the Royal Canadian Legion on November 25, 1925.
“Now some of you may ask why this is important?
“Although we have not seen the mass mobilization of soldiers, airmen and naval personnel since the Second World War, Canadian military personnel have been involved in substantial conflicts and operations throughout the world.
“Even as we speak, Canada has personnel situated in several geo-political hotspots such as Mali, Iraq, and Latvia. These soldiers put themselves in harm’s way, in support of the country’s beliefs and values. Although not deemed a war, these are some of the most dangerous places on earth. “The men and women of Canada’s military are exposed to inhuman atrocities and ill treatment against our fellow humans. Some return with psychological scars of what they have seen, requiring substantial aid and treatment to return to normal life. More often than not, they return without a hero’s welcome and unfortunately get lost in the buzz of today’s busy life.
“Over time, we have slowly moved away as a society from full appreciation of the sacrifices performed by so few in the name of freedom. At times, it seems more important about the number of “Likes” or “Followers” one gets on their social media page than taking the time to acknowledge and address the personal sacrifices of our men and women in uniform.
“We are often quick to complain that today’s generation is unengaged and disconnected, but I ask, what have we done as a Legion to make today’s youth look up from their hands and take notice. It could be as simple as sharing the story.
“As I prepared this speech, I was taken back to adolescence my and early adult years sitting with my grandfather discussing his military experience during the Second World War and our family’s military history; four generations of Woodwards, dating back to my great-grandfather. I could tell he was filled with immense pride for his time in service and our history, but also great pain from what he had witnessed and endured. We would sit for hours in the TV room or on the deck at the cabin talking; well mostly him, I would sit there and listen.
“As I gaze out upon the room, I look upon my own children who already know part of their military heritage. In time, I look forward to when I can sit with my own grandchildren and pass on stories of my time in uniform; this is how we engage with the youth,” concluded Woodward.
Legion President Woodward then presented the award for Legionnaire of the Year to Ashley Hollett.
“What does it take to be Legionnaire of the year?” he said.
“This year's recipient bears all the qualities in my opinion. His day to day living lifestyle makes him an ideal selection.
“He maintains himself in high respect for the Legion, his community and his job. Some people are just naturals when they deal with people; there is not a bad bone in their body. To greet everyone like they are the best person in their life really is an outstanding asset and a credit to his character.
“It gives me great pleasure to call upon comrade Ashley Hollett to receive this prestigious award from Branch No. 24.”
Happy birthday was sung during the program to Erla Rudd and Helen Panchuk, two long-standing Legion members who turned 93.
The program concluded with singing God Save the Queen and march off the head table led by piper Keri Lindsay.