Second World War veteran Dorothy Chambers says pride and excitement washed over her as she watched fellow soldiers march into the Fort William Gardens.
Chambers, who enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 as a stenographer then a military driver, waved her Canadian flags and cheered other veterans as they came into the stadium Sunday morning. About 2,500 people joined her in cheering and flag waving before the ceremonies commenced.
The 90-year-old wore her medals and the held the medals her late husband Jack. She said that she wanted to marry Jack before he left to serve in the war but he wouldn’t have it.
He was worried that if he came back wounded she wouldn’t marry him but Chambers said she quickly put that fear to rest. After being apart from each for three years, the pair eventually married.
“I’m very proud to have served my country while my then fiancée served as an air gunner,” she said. “My whole body is quivering with pride and excitement. Remembrance Day is extremely important.”
George Kearney enlisted in the navy and served from 1943 to 1946. Many decades have passed but Kearney said he still remembers that on May 13, 1945 was the day that the first saw a German submarine.
The submarine had surrendered and the ship he was on was giving directions on where they could dock. He said it was rare to see an enemy submarine up close like that.
“Most people in the navy I think had never seen a submarine. The submarines were out there until the very last days of the war. Being in the coding department, we would get daily signals where they thought the submarines were and they would say that they are in the vicinity.”
He said Remembrance Day is a day for him to remember his friends and honour those soldiers that didn’t make it back home.
Leonard Martyn, who served in the navy for four years, agreed that it was important to give thanks and honour to those who served their country. Martyn enlisted in 1942 and had attempted to join the army but they turned him down.
He worked on English cruisers for 14 months but what stands out most for him is being with his friends, he said.
“It’s very important to honour all the veterans,” he said.
Event chair Tom Beda said the Remembrance Day ceremony is nothing compared to what the veterans went through.
He said overall the ceremony went well but was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t as many veterans in this year’s parade. He guessed that many of the veterans from the Second World War are too old to participate.
“People have to realize that the folks coming back from Afghanistan are veterans too,” Beda said. “You talk to a lot of people and they figure World War One and World War Two. That’s a veteran but it’s anybody that served. Right now, I think people are having trouble distinguishing the difference. It took them a while to recognize the Korean War and it’s going to take a little while.”
“But as far as I’m concerned a veteran is anyone who has served,” he added.