Smaller, private Remembrance Day service set for Sarnia

Remembrance Day in Sarnia 2019 (Blackburnnews.com photo by Aaron Zimmer)

Wednesday’s Remembrance Day service in Sarnia will be a much smaller and more intimate private event.

The traditional large public gathering at Veterans Park had to be cancelled due to pandemic restrictions, and there will be no procession from the Legion on Front Street to the cenotaph.

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 62 Vice President Les Jones said it’s especially unfortunate because this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Second World War.

“We have very, very few of our World War ll veterans left and it’s so unfortunate that they won’t be able to take part in the traditional service,” said Jones. “This has happened all year, we were going to have a VE Day celebration earlier in the year and we had to totally cancel that event.”

Branch 62 spokesman Ron Realesmith said although they won’t have the usual large crowd for Wednesday’s ceremony, residents can still honour those who have served and have paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

“Throughout the day, if you are out in the community, go to Veterans Park and pay your respects and go to the cenotaph and do that, but obviously do it following social distancing guidelines,” said Realesmith. “We just want the public to know that we haven’t cancelled our service, we are performing a service we just won’t be marching through the street and then making our way to Veterans Park.”

The 403 Honour Flight plans to have up to eight planes flying over the Dresden, Brigden, and Sarnia areas on Wednesday morning.

403 Honour Flight over Sarnia May 20, 2020 (BlackburnNews.com photo by Dave Dentinger)

403 Honour Flight over Sarnia May 20, 2020 (BlackburnNews.com photo by Dave Dentinger)

Flight Lead Mark Seibutis encourages everyone to pause for a moment of reflection.

“When we go over people in their towns or at home out in their backyards, whatever they’re doing, when they hear the aircraft or they see them, even though they aren’t at the cenotaph or a formal service, just stop and take a moment to remember the veterans that actually gave us the freedom to do that.”

Seibutis said we owe a lot to our veterans.

“It’s just an honour,” he said. “To any veteran, if we go over you, thank you for all that you’ve done and your families. And those that are serving now because they don’t get recognized. They’re out all over the place and a lot of people forget about them. We want to remember those folks, too.”

Wednesday’s scaled back service at the Legion will begin at 10:58 a.m. and will be broadcast live on CHOK (103.9 FM, 1070 AM).

The Legion, Sarnia Police Service, Sarnia Fire and Rescue, and the City of Sarnia will also stream the ceremony live on Facebook.

-With files from Josh Boyce & Sue Storr