CORNWALL, Ontario – On the eve of Remembrance Day, veterans and soldiers united for an annual dinner with a high-ranking general.
Hundreds gathered at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 297 for an event that pays homage to the men and women who fought for Canada’s freedom.
Veterans and soldiers from World War 2, the Korean War and Afghanistan shared a meal and a moment of silence for those who gave the “ultimate sacrifice.”
“I hope there is never another war,” said WW2 veteran Rocky Lalonde. “It was all worth it knowing that people won’t have to go through the same thing.”
Lalonde, and fellow veteran Rudy Roy, joined the navy together and fought during the D-Day invasion of Normandy. They share a brother-like bond, and were among five young Cornwall natives who served on the battleship HMCS St. Laurent.
“It was very demanding. No sea is as rough as the North Atlantic,” said Roy. “It’s a strange thing when you’re young and you don’t understand what you’re going into.”
Lalonde said he was at the dinner to represent his three brothers, one of which was shot down in England. Roy stressed that his brothers joined the army and he wanted to take his own direction fighting for freedom.
“We feel very proud when we see people wearing the poppy and taking part in Remembrance Day ceremonies,” said Lalonde.
Linda Fisher, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 297 vice-president, said the event is a yearly thank you to nearly 100 veterans.
“Tonight’s about recognizing the sacrifices that our veterans past and present have made,” said Brigadier General Kelly Woiden, keynote speaker.
Woiden served in Afghanistan, and has a long resume in the military spanning over several decades.
The subject of Remembrance Day reminded him of going down tunnels where the Battle of Vimy Ridge happened with a WW2 veteran. He said the veteran became more emotional when he was surrounded by memories of WW1, because of the profound respect he had for those soldiers. Woiden also noted that a major sacrifice comes from the families of soldiers who have lost generations of their loved ones to war.
Corporals Brandon Bourdon, 27, and Thomas Christopher Desrosiers, 29, both served in Afghanistan and were proud to be at the annual veterans’ dinner. Desrosiers also served in Turkey.
“It means a lot to be here. It’s not just for veterans, it’s for anyone who has served. It’s a great thing this happens every year,” said Bourdon.
Desrosiers said his father was the past president of the Legion and served in Germany.
“It’s an honour to be here,” he said.