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Hundreds honour local veterans at Remembrance Day ceremony (9 photos)

'There was a greater cause than my own safety,' says local veteran; Orillia church bells will ring 100 times this afternoon to mark anniversary of armistice

A small thank you to a veteran is the epitome of honour for the soldier.

That’s how Canadian military veteran Dave Burtch looks at it.

The Orillia resident was among more than 400 people who were at the Remembrance Day service held today at the Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital cenotaph.

“It means a lot that the military is still being honoured and remembered,” said Burtch, who was a peacekeeper with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for three years and went on tours to Cypress.

He was at the cenotaph early in the morning, watching as people lined up along the sides of the road leading up to the main entrance.

“I come out and honour my mom and dad. Both of them served for Canada in the Second World War,” said Burtch.

For him, enlisting in the military ran in the family; he signed up to serve as soon as he turned 18.

“I wanted to serve, I just really wanted to serve,” said Burtch, acknowledging the dangers of being in the military. “There was a greater cause than my own safety. It was a matter of Queen and country.”

He believes every young person should serve their country.

But in an ideal situation, added Burtch, no one should have to worry about going to war.

Burtch, a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 34, comes out to the service and makes a point of talking to the veterans.

“This time of year a lot of service stories are shared, about service and how things were in wars,” Burtch said.

And it’s also a time for standing in revered silence to recognize the lives lost and the soldiers who served and returned.

“This is a traditional Remembrance Day ceremony held on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, which was also the exact date of the armistice,” said Rick Purcell, president of the local legion.

A parade included participants from the legion, Army Navy Air Force Veterans, Air Force Cadets, officers from the OPP, the Orillia Fire Department, and the Knights of Columbus.

People lined up along the parade route to applaud those carrying the flags and marching.

“My husband’s grandfather died in the First World War,” said Daisy Hobbs of Cumberland Beach. “I tear up a lot. I guess it’s just the ceremony that reminds us what the people did and went through.”

The parade started at the hospital and, following the ceremony at the cenotaph, participants marched down to the legion for a reception.

This year's Remembrance Day ceremonies started at 6:30 a.m., when The Battle’s O’er was played at the legion. The ceremonies will end at the legion later today when local secondary school students plant 100 flags at Veteran’s Memorial Park.

At 4:56 p.m., three churches, St. James’ Anglican, St. Andrew’s Presbyterian and St. Mark’s Presbyterian will ring their bells 100 times, each starting five seconds apart.

A number of activities also took place yesterday at the Orillia Public Library as well as down at the legion, commemorating Canadian soldiers, and Orillia’s role in the two wars. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.