Four Silver Cross Mothers were the guests of honour a Highway of Heroes Remembrance Ceremony in Grafton on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.
Retired Principal Kieran Kennedy from Longue Sault Public School poignantly opened the ceremony and welcomed the Veteran Community that had gathered to Remember All That Gave Some and Some That Gave All.
Kerri Tadeu who adopted the Highway of Heroes in Memory of Grafton born Major Michelle Knight Mendes with a Canadian Armed Forces member and Veteran almost four years ago spoke emotionally about Major Knight Mendes and the importance of Remembering her life and legacy and saying her name. Saying the names of all those who served our country and sacrificed so much for the freedom we have today. Tadeu stated, “When we sweat more in peace, we bleed less in war” adding that the Highway of Heroes Volunteers in attendance have been sweating a lot with her over the years to affect change in the Veteran Community.
Sergeant (retired) Sheila Clayton spoke these words
Across Canada, and in many other countries, people gather on November 11 to honour the courage and devotion of brave men and women who made the supreme sacrifice of dying for their country. The hostilities of the First World War ceased on November 11, 1918, at 11:00 a.m. the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The following year marked the first observance of a day to remember and honour those who died, as well as to give thanks for the sacrifices of those who came back from serving their country. Since then, Canadians have fought in other conflicts and many have given their lives so that we might enjoy freedom today. They too should be remembered.
British Veteran Corporal (retired) Simon Toyne read John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
Sir David Sopha M.S.M. KStG who painted the Portraits of Honour including Corporal Matthew McCully, Private Demetrios Diplaros, Major Michelle Knight Mendes and Craftsman’s Kyle Sinclair whose Silver Cross Mother’s were in attendance today spoke these words
“The war is over
And their sun has set
But those that loved them
Will never forget”
Master Corporal (retired) Maggie Van Tassell read
“When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today”
Master Warrant Officer (retired) Daryl Watters read the post “His Beret” by Clive Sanders
He still has his old army beret
And many the tales it could tell
He wore it for years while in service
With pride it could make his heart swell
He wore it in rain and in sunshine
He wore it perched high on its head
He touched to honour his sovereign
And clutched it to stand over the dead
He threw it to show celebration
He sat on it if seats were all wet
It polished his windscreen when dirty
He drank through it to settle a bet
His cap badge was something he’d fight for
Surrounded by friends he could trust
That cap badge was something he’d die for
For honour was always a must
It now stands on top of his wardrobe
It’s cap badge polished to a high sheen
He smiles as he glances up to it
And nods when he sees its a
It reminds him of days spent together
With commended whom he thought the best
And it still makes his heart swell with Honour
And with medals worn proud on his chest
Gabby Koch DStG said a prayer before Able seaman (retired) Richard Brown read The Act of Remembrance
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them”
Lorna Dickson the Highway of Heroes Earth Angel who has raised over $23,500 for Mental Health for Military members, Veterans and First Responders by donating between Project Trauma Support and To The Stan and Back presented an additional $350 after recently donating $500 under the Highway of Heroes Adoption for the 2020 HonouRuck that took place between Morrisburg and Cornwall. Dickson spoke these words
“Today and everyday we Remember All That Gave Some and Some That Gave All. We will Remember Them”
The Last Post was followed by two minutes of silence. Pipe Major Mary Ito played a beautiful Lament.
Able seaman (retired) Richard Brown read the Commitment to Remember
“They were young, as we are young,
They served, giving freely of themselves.
To them, we pledge, amid the winds of time,
To carry their torch and never forget.
We will remember them.
Response: We will remember them”
Gabby Koch DStG sang the Military Version (by Terra Weston) of Hallelujah when wreaths were laid by Silver Cross Mothers.
Silver Cross Mother Valerie McGrady was escorted by Sergeant (retired) Sheila Clayton
Silver Cross Mother Kathleen Smith escorted by Corporal (retired) Maggie Van Tassell
Silver Cross Mother Dianne Knight was escorted by Lieutenant-Commander (retired) Francine Allard and OPP Toni Whelan
Silver Cross Mother Anna Loveman escorted by Able seaman (retired) Richard Brown
Lieutenant-Commander (retired) Francine Allard read close to 250 names listed on the Grafton Cenotaph who either served or died serving our country.
Sir Dave Sopha escorted by his daughter, Terri Sopha, laid a wreath to Remember the 158 Fallen Soldiers from the Afghanistan War
The ceremony ended with Alnwick/Haldimand Township Mayor Gail Latchford paying her respect to the four Silver Cross Mothers in attendance recognizing the supreme sacrifices their families have experienced.
After God Save the Queen was sung by Gabby Koch there was a socially astute reception.
Silver Cross Mother Valerie McGrady expressed gratitude for the effort and attention to detail the Highway of Heroes Volunteers put in to honour her sons memory which included pictures of her her son and a wreath made of red roses with his name on it.