Decoration Day honours veterans as it returns to original location

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Cadets placed Canadian flags on veteran gravesites at Decoration Day at the South Hill Cemetary on Sunday.

The Prince Albert Legion and ANAVETS were joined by representatives from the local cadet corps on Sunday for the annual Decoration Day at South Hill Cemetery, where they placed Canadian flags on markers next to the graves of local veterans.

Legion President Rick Hodgson said this was the first year since the COVID-19 pandemic began that the event was in the regular location.

“We finally got back to our regular normal Decoration Day where we have it at this Cenotaph here, where it always was held before,” Hodgson said. “We’re gone from COVID and this is our first big one since I’ve been involved.

“I was here before, but I wasn’t the President at the time. But this is where it was always held … and it went good today,” he added.

The event is organized by both the Legion and ANAVETs. Hodgson was happy to see how many people turned out for the day.

Hodgson said the goal is to remember the sacrifices veterans made overseas. The event falls on the Sunday closest to June 6 (D-Day), which this year fell on June 9.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Cadets placed Canadian flags on veteran gravesites at Decoration Day at the South Hill Cemetary on Sunday.

Hodgson said it was important to have this year’s Decoration Day because it was also close to the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

“It’s important to a lot of people,” he said. “It’s important to me. I have an uncle that died and is buried over there and then my father went over there, so it’s essential to have Decoration Day and Remembrance Day. We have got to remember.”

During the ceremony, cadets placed Canadian flags at each grave. Decoration Day is recognized by most Legions and ANAVETS.

Grant Ursaki acted as emcee, the service had two Chaplains Major Ed Dean and Father Jim Kaptein.

Legion member Marie Mathers did the scripture reading. The Gospel was read by Dean and the address was given by Kaptein. There was also a prayer given by Wayne Ahenakew in Cree to acknowledge First Nations veterans.

Because there was no singer to lead the many songs, a volunteer stepped forward to fill the roll. The Honour Roll for 2024 was read, and wreaths were laid by Hodgson and Floyd Lavallee of the ANAVETS. Kaptein also placed the ashes in remembrance.

Following another prayer, the Act of Remembrance was performed. Canadian flags were placed to mark the grave sites of those buried in the cemetery who died in any conflict.

Local cadets decorated some of the graves before the ceremony, then finished the rest afterwards.

The event opened with ‘O Canada’ and concluded with the Lord’s Prayer.

Hodgson said the service is returning to full strength with representatives from many organizations such as the Correctional Service and Prince Albert Fire Department in the parade.

“(It’s) a good turnout in everything and the parade, plus people coming to visit,” he said.

The Legion and ANAVETS team up on Decoration Day each year and alternate putting together the program, this year it was the Legion’s turn.

After a stormy week, the weather cleared up for Decoration Day.

“The weather cooperated with us today and everything went well,” Hodgson said. “(It’s) back to our old spot still doing the same thing. We have got to keep it moving forward and keep it happening for the future.”

After the service, everyone who attended was invited for lunch at the Legion.