Act of Remembrance honours vets and marks 100 years since WWI

Canadian flags placed on graves of those who served their country


A military campaign took place in the local cemetery last week, with a chilly wind blowing, and autumn leaves underfoot.

Around 55 students marshalled at the muster point at 1:15 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, at the eastern access road to the old Killarney Cemetery, to be briefed on their mission.

Then, armed with a spreadsheet, they moved into designated sections of the cemetery, led by Grade 11 and 12 ‘troop commanders,’ to place small, colourful Canadian maple leaf flags on the graves of those who served in the military, including the RCMP.

“We thought we would honour vets, because it’s the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One,” said Paul Parks, a Legion member and veteran. “We created a spreadsheet that sections off the cemetery. We know where everyone is.”

The event, an Act of Remembrance, was then performed by Killarney School students, ranging from middle years to high school, in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25.

The idea was dreamed up this fall by Park and his wife, past president of the RCL 25, Evelyn Dickson-Park. They wanted to do something special before the upcoming Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11, he said.

“We spent three weeks going to the cemetery, walking the rows, snapping pictures, and finding headstones,” said Park. “Lawrence Smith then got involved, and Robin Pawchuk and Wanda Bell, and it just got going. Terry Beazley, the school principal was also interested, and then Westoba Credit Union offered to serve hot chocolate at the end of the mission.”

The couple also enjoyed writing up a military ‘fragment order’ for the students to follow, giving them a taste of the service life.

“A Fragment Order, or ‘Frag O,’ is a quick sketch of what’s happening,” said Park. “It includes details like the Situation, the Mission, and the Execution, which has four phases. And it has Timings, with the muster point and location, and Kit, which was warm clothing. Rations included the hot chocolate at the end of the mission, served back at the Muster Point. We had fun with that.”

For Park, involving the kids in a hands-on way was very emotional and fulfilling.

“It’s an act of remembrance for us,” he said. “It’s just instilling in the kids what the veterans have done for them, and why they have their freedom today.”

The veterans endowed with the headstone flags included those who served in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and veterans who served in the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP.

“Today is for all vets, if you served in any military – that’s who we are honouring,” said Park. “It’s not a sad day. It’s a celebration.”

GRAVESTONE FLAG TO MARK MILITARY SERVICE – Byron Labossiere (kneeling) and Carter Bartley place Canadian flags during a special Act of Remembrance event, organized by Killarney’s Royal Canadian Legion #25. Students from Killarney School reported for the military mission on Thursday, November 1, to place Canadian flags on the gravestones of some 185 service personnel. The event included around 55 students and other members of the public, and also served to commemorate the end of the First World War a century ago.

TRIBUTE TO VETERANS – Evelyn Dickson-Park pays a special tribute to WWI veterans at the Killarney Cemetery on Thursday, just prior to the Act of Remembrance. She’s holding up a medallion presented by Britain to families who lost their loved ones in WWI fighting alongside Britain. This particular medallion was presented to Alexander Nicholson’s mom and dad. Alexander left for war in 1916 and was killed in action in Belgium battlefields in 1917. Alexander Nicholson’s name is on the Killarney Cenotaph. He is also commemorated on Ypres Menin Gate Memorial.  Watch for more stories on those who served their country in this Friday’s edition of The Guide.