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Orillia's pre-recorded Remembrance Day service airing Wednesday

Rogers TV programming will include Orillia service, Oro-Medonte segment
2019-11-11 Orillia Remembrance Day 14
Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton, front, pays his respects as Rick Purcell, first vice-president of Branch 34 of the Royal Canadian Legion, looks on during last year's Remembrance Day ceremony. This year's event is virtual. Nathan Taylor/OrilliaMatters File Photo

Some Remembrance Day ceremonies have already taken place in the region, but there’s still a chance for members of the public to pay their respects.

The ceremony planned for Wednesday at the cenotaph at Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital (OSMH) was called off last month over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, so a small service took place recently near the monument at Veterans’ Memorial Park. It was taped by Rogers TV and will be shown Wednesday.

“We went through the whole program like we normally do,” said Rick Purcell, first vice-president of Orillia’s Branch 34 of the Royal Canadian Legion.

It was a scaled-down event, however, because of limits on gatherings. Only one veteran was on hand for the ceremony and five wreaths were laid. Usually, 40 to 50 wreaths are placed at the cenotaph at OSMH.

Members of the Legion and Army Navy and Air Force were in attendance, but there were no dignitaries there.

“It’s a shame we couldn’t invite everyone, but we had to be careful with the numbers,” Purcell said, adding many veterans are at an age that makes them medically vulnerable.

It wasn’t the ceremony Purcell is used to, but the sentiment was the same.

“There was still the sombreness. We take it very seriously,” he said.

Royal Canadian Air Cadets usually stand vigil at the cenotaph, where they remain from the evening before Remembrance Day until the end of the service. That isn’t happening this year, but the young cadets will be standing vigil in a unique way. About 40 of them will stand in front of their homes in 15-minute shifts.

“We’re excited about that and veterans are very excited about that,” Purcell said. “Sometimes veterans would see them (at the cenotaph) and they’d cry because it brought back memories.”

The Legion is hoping people will help out by picking up poppies for a donation. They can also purchase Legion masks, which will help make up for the loss in poppy revenue since officials can’t be standing out on the street with poppy boxes.

While there will be no formal service at the cenotaph Wednesday, a few people will be there to lay four wreaths.

Purcell urges people to watch the Rogers TV coverage of the pre-taped ceremony. The programming will start at 10:30 a.m. and can be viewed on TV or on the Rogers TV Facebook page.

It will include a segment with Oro-Medonte Mayor Harry Hughes and a local veteran.

Oro-Medonte held its ceremony Sunday at the cenotaph at the fairgrounds. That event was live-streamed on the township’s Facebook page. It can still be viewed on the Facebook page and on the township’s website.

“We felt we were obligated to do something. Lest we forget,” Hughes said. “The veterans certainly put up with a lot of tough times and challenges during the war. It would not be a good reflection on us if we didn’t do something.”

He described the ceremony as “classy and respectful.”

Twenty-five people, including veterans and dignitaries, attended the service.

“It was really impressive,” Hughes said. “The part that you miss the most is being able to socialize after (in larger groups).”

Oro-Medonte resident John Hare, a veteran of the Second World War, was a fixture at the township’s Remembrance Day ceremonies for years, until his death in 2018. The township made sure to invite one of his family members for this year’s service.

“Remembrance Day ceremonies wouldn’t be the same without having representation from the Hare family,” he said.


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Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the desk editor for Village Media's central Ontario news desk in Simcoe County and Newmarket.
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