The Legion Remembrance Day in 2020 will take place on Facebook Live due to the pandemic.
Today, I’ll share a story I did back in 2014 to commemorate the day.
Verdun Legion Remembrance Day Services took place Sunday, November 2, 2020 from 1:45 until about 4 p.m.
Our parade has always been the first Sunday in November and we decided to do that again this year,” said Stan Kircoff, president and poppy chairman of Royal Canadian Branch 4, Verdun. “Our colour party and our executive goes downtown on Remembrance Day itself, even now.”
The ceremony in Verdun was extra special this year. It marked the 60th anniversary of Parade Marshal Graydon Fytes a Korean War veteran in his eighties.
He’s one of our life members,” said Kircoff. “We have two life members in our branch. The other is Ross Neal, a past president. Every year, Graydon says that this is his last time leading the parade. He walks with a walker, but when the parade starts, get that walker out of the way, because he just goes.”
Fytes is renowned for his dedication to his volunteer duties. His daughter Joy says that he participates every year, no matter what. One year, he even participated with a broken arm. He refused to wear his sling because it covered his medals.
Fytes, Branch 4 Legion members and the other participants met in front of the Cenotaph in front of City Hall on Verdun Avenue at about 1:45 p.m. The police shut down the street to make room for the parade.
At 2 p.m., the Black Watch Band began playing. The Branch 4 colour parade marched with five flags: Canada, Quebec, the Branch 4 flag, the United Nations Flag and the Union Jack.
They were followed by colour parties from four other Royal Canadian Branches: 127 Point St. Charles, 212 LaSalle, 98 St. Laurent and 24106 NDG.
Everyone marched north on Willibrord Street to the City Hall parking lot. They then walked past City Hall and then into Park de Souvenirs for the ceremony.
The Last Post played, followed by the Reveille.
Catholic Reverend George Oakes from Thomas Moore prayed in English. United Reverend David Lefneski prayed in French. Then wreathes were laid.
Kircoff laid a wreath for the Legion. Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Phare and Chief Warrant Officer Mario Carmosino laid a wreath for the Black Watch.
Local politicians also put wreaths on the cenotaph. Federal Member of Parliament Tyrone Benskin asked local Iman Hussein Amer to join him to lay his wreath. Member of Provincial Parliament Jacques Daoust, Verdun borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau and local councillor and Legion member Stirling Downey also participated.
After the ceremony, parade chairman Fytes had everyone march away while the provincial president of the Royal Canadian Legion made the closing salute.
Then everyone went back to the Legion for some snacks.
People reminisce and they talk,” said Kircoff. “We’ve moved, so our branch is limited for space but we squeezed about 130 people into the hall.”
During the afternoon, Mayor Parenteau gave Graydon Fytes a certificate thanking him for 60 years of service. Later, he and councillor Downey rang the Dunver bell; together they bought a round for everyone.