Legions, ANAVETS, and cadets honour deceased veterans on Decoration Day

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Cadets placed Canadian flags by headstones as part of Decoration Day at South Hill Cemetery 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.

“It keeps the stuff going for the veterans, for what they did for us, going overseas and making their way back,” Legion president Rick Hodgson said. “This day is always set on the first Sunday after June 6 and it’s important to keep it going and keep the memory out there for what they did for us.”

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

“It gets people coming out,’ he said. “You see a lot of young kids and that now, and parents coming out.

“The main thing we can’t let this stuff go by the wayside. It’s always really important.”

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 11.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Rick Hodgson and Bernie MacDonald placed wreaths as part of Decoration Day at South Hill Cemetery on Sunday.

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

“The cadets go out and lay the flags in front of all the veteran’s headstones just something for the veterans and veterans that are also buried separate from the soldiers’ section they put a flag out for them. Just things that they have always done,” Hodgson said.

Legion member Marie Mathers acted as emcee and Chaplain for the service. The Honour Roll for both 2022 and 2023 was read, and wreaths were laid by Hodgson and Bernie MacDonald of the ANAVETS. Mathers also placed the ashes in remembrance.

Following another prayer, the Act of Remembrance was performed. Red, white and blue posts were placed to mark the grave sites of those buried in the cemetery who died in conflict, all people which were remembered.

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

Hodgson said the service isn’t as well attended as it was in previous years, but he’s optimistic it will rebound in the future. The cadet groups have also had some struggles in recent years but are returning to full strength.

“It’s getting quieter and quieter over the years,” he said. “I’ve been involved with it probably for about 10 years from when we used to haul out chairs and set up to (have) lots of people. It’s getting quieter and quieter, but we still have to keep doing it to keep it going. We went through COVID, slowed it down, and now hopefully we can get it back.”

Hodgson joined the Legion because of his father, a Second World War veteran, who was active in the organization. Now, he continues that tradition.

“I just keep doing it for what they did,” he explained. “You have got to keep these Legion’s and Army Navy’s going. You can’t let stuff die after what they did for us.”

Along with the small Legion and ANAVET service for Decoration Day, there was an unveiling of new monuments in Memorial Square during the afternoon.

“It’s a good recognition day for everybody,” Hodgson said.

“It will be nice down there to see all them come out to put it together as one day event. It all fell together so it would be nice to see.”