Veterans Celebrated at Legion Dinner

Krystine Therriault - Seaway News
Veterans Celebrated at Legion Dinner
L to R: Jerry Szemborn, MPP Nolan Quinn, Mayor Glen Grant, Ray Leduc, and Legion Branch 297 President Marvin Plumadore (Photo : Krystine Therriault/Seaway News)

Around 150 people attended last week’s Veterans Dinner at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 297 to honour veterans who served and remember those who did not come home.

Tom Irvine, veteran and immediate past president of Dominion Command, Legion national headquarters, was the night’s guest speaker.

Tom first joined the Ormstown #196 Branch in 1988 and is currently a life member of the Hemmingford #244 Branch in Quebec (about 50 miles outside of Montreal).

Irvine has had 23 years of experience serving in the military with the Reserves in the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) in Montreal. In 1975 he joined a peacekeeping tour in Egypt with the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF 2).

When asked what made him enlist, Irvine said: family.

“All the male members of my family were in the Black Watch, Montreal, and I decided to join too. The only difference was they all joined the pipe band and I didn’t. I was the first one to join the regiment,” he explained, “I was a reservist out of Montreal, but I did postings in Petawawa and Valcartier and Class B service in Germany and the Middle East.”

Irvine spent at least 20 of his 23 years in the military serving as a Recruit Instructor doing what he loved to do – teach.

During his time in service, Irvine earned six medals: three military medals and three civilian medals. He said that his favorite medal on the military side is the United Nations medal. On the civilian side his favorite medal is the Sovereign’s Volunteer medal, which he received in 2019 (the civilian side being what he is most proud of).

“I’ve been involved with the Legion since 1989. I’ve gone right through the ranks from Branch, to Provincial, to Dominion, and I’ve just retired in the last year and a half as the National President of the Legion. So, that’s all I’ve done. All my adult life once I got out of the military was volunteering for the Legion. Everything that we do.”

The evening began with cocktails at 6 and the meal at 7. Several of our local elected officials were in attendance, including Mayor Glen Grant, Mayor Elect Justin Towndale, MP Eric Duncan, and MPP Nolan Quinn.

Dignitaries were led into the dinner hall by piper Anna Parks, whose grandfather was a piper for the Legion. The hall was decorated beautifully with a fallen comrade table set up at the front. During the evening a painting called ‘Poppies in the Sun’ was unveiled, a gift donated by retired school teachers Jan and John Milnes from Williamstown, who regularly frequent the Legion.

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