Lest We Forget

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Jason Pankratz - Tillsonburg Legion Branch 153

A couple corrections before I begin. It has been brought to my attention that the Orange Hall was actually on Brock Street and the Legion on Lisgar sat on the lot just north of Newman Park. Unfortunately both of those buildings were demolished long before I was born. This is why it is important to preserve our historical buildings; so future generations can be part of their legacy.

Last month the Legion and the Tillsonburg Military History Club re-dedicated our town cenotaph. We had ‘Afghanistan’ inscribed on it, to honour the Canadians who served and died in that war. Take a look at our cenotaph next time you’re outside of the Tillsonburg Town Centre mall. It has the dates of both World War One and Two. It has battles of WWI inscribed on it as well as recognizes the service of men and women who fought in Korea and who are Peacekeepers.

Our cenotaph was erected in 1929. In old photos of the downtown you can see it stand prominently on Broadway in front of the old town hall. I often wonder if our citizens recognize its placement and importance. Of course we respect its meaning but how often do we actually look and think about it. Today it sits within feet from the Broadway entrance of Tillsonburg Town Centre. I’ve watched people pass it casually as they drive and walk past. While others regard it as just a piece of the environment when drinking coffee or entering the mall. But we can’t blame anyone. That is what happens to ‘things’; especially buildings and architecture. They fade into the background until people are made aware of them.

This is exactly what the Legion strives to do; to make the community aware of the service of its community members and Canadians. After the ceremony at the cenotaph, we were honoured to hear the experiences of a veteran of the Afghanistan war. Sgt. Stephen Thomas served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was awarded a medal of bravery. Today he is 32 years of age. He and his comrades are not what we think of when we think of ‘veterans.’ The Royal Canadian Legion wants these men and women remembered for their service but also for being a new generation of veterans. It is important to remember that veterans are not just old men and women; they are men and women of all ages, with a variety of service, occupations and experiences.

Tillsonburg Legion Branch 153 encourages you to participate and support ALL of our veterans during the Poppy Campaign leading up to November 11th. We will be hosting our annual Remembrance Day Service at the cenotaph at 11 a.m. on the morning of November 11th. Tickets are now available for the dinner and program that evening. Call the Legion to buy your tickets. Come celebrate the freedom we enjoy as Canadians and honour the sacrifices fellow Canadians have made in wars of the past and conflicts that we are engaged in today.

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