Veterans march at VE Day parade

By Sean Leslie
May 12, 2013 - 8:42am

The Prince Albert Royal Canadian Legion held a VE Day parade on Saturday to commemorate the allied victory in Europe and honour Canadian veterans of war.

Before the ceremony, three veterans shared their thoughts on what Victory in Europe Day means to them.

For Ed Laird, it takes him back to when he was working in communications for an artillery group in the Second Field Regiment.

He still vividly remembers the morning of May 5, 1945, “At about 4 o’clock in the morning I was given the message to send ‘ceasefire’ to the Second Field Regiment. It happened to have been my birthday, May fifth. I was 22 years old,” he said.

The group maintained their post for the next three days, said Laird, until the official terms of the surrender were finalized.

Then, on May 8, “that’s when we started to celebrate ... everybody was celebrating, everybody was kissing you, hugging you and waving at you,” he said.

John Hall also fought in World War II but for him VE Day stirs up more difficult memories.

“For me it’s a celebration or a remembrance of D-Day and D-Day is the day that we landed on the beaches of France, which I did, with the Royal Regina Rifles,” said Hall.

Hall was the Corporal in charge of the radio and communications for D Company of the Regina Rifle Regiment.

They made their landing on Juno beach just before 9 a.m. after sustaining heavy casualties when two of their landing craft were destroyed by mines. Hall, like many others, has difficulty talking about what he experienced on that day.

Korean War veteran Armand Bourassa says ceremonies like the VE Day parade make him “remember the friends that you lost.”

On the one hand, the former paratrooper appreciates the commemoration of their memories. But it also reminds him of his belief that the soldiers who fought in the Korean War are largely forgotten.
“There’s a lot of Korean war veterans here in PA that were never remembered ... a lot of people don’t know anything about it” he said. “We got wiped out practically to a man and there’s no remembrance to it at all,” he continued, wiping away a tear.

Often referred to as the forgotten war, nearly 27,000 Canadians served in Korea from 1950-1953 and 516 lost their lives.

The parade

The parade was held in front of City Hall with members from the Air Cadets, Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, RCMP and Prince Albert Police in attendance.

They marched with the veterans behind a bagpiper and then several Legion members including Laird, Hall, and Bourassa laid wreaths as part of the ceremony.

A few dozen onlookers were at the parade including Linda Gosselink, whose family has been affected by war.

When her uncle George was killed in World War Two, the heartbreak of his death was compounded by how his little brother, who was back at home sick with tuberculosis, received the news.

“When he found out his brother had died in the war, they didn’t have a cure for T.B, and the heart went out of him and she watched him die because the brothers were so close,” she said.

George was an important part of the family and Gosselink’s mother, George’s sister, always made sure to tell stories about uncle George.  He was never forgotten.

“When you personalize a veteran it stays with you and maybe that’s something we need ... to personalize what happened to my family and what happened to your family.”

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