BRIDGETOWN - Hundreds of people of all ages packed the Bridgetown Royal Canadian Legion auditorium Nov. 11 as they paid tribute to those men and women who died for their country in wars and military actions that date back more than a century.
Rev. Randolph Legassie told the crowd during the ecumenical service after dozens of wreaths were laid that it’s time also to say we’re sorry.
“We owe a great debt to men and women like them,” Legassie said in reference to his father and stepfather who both served in the Second World War. “Their willingness to volunteer and give of themselves for the sake of others is an essential part of why we have the life we have today. We gather to remember those who didn't make it back -- and as well, I think, we remember those who went and did come back, but whose lives were forever affected by their experience. Whether it was World War 1, World War 2, Korea, Bosnia, Somalia, Afghanistan or wherever else our military has been deployed and faced battle, we need to remember and appreciate the reality that without them and their sacrifice, our lives here and now would not be the same.”
Besides owing that debt, Canadians also owe an apology, he said.
“I think that when we are remembering what we owe to the members of the military, we need to realize that we owe all of them an apology -- we need to tell them that we are sorry for our part in causing the wars in the first place,” Legassie said. “We need to apologize for being selfish human beings who eventually end up creating such a mess that the only possible solution is for members of the military to give themselves completely to protect us from our own selfishness and stupidity. We need to apologize for the selfishness that took the lives of so many completely and damaged the lives of so many others.”
Legassie’s sermon also advocated for a better way to live. He quoted the Bible’s Book of Romans 12.18 that says: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
“This is a reminder to us that we have better ways of living our lives than the ways which lead us to needing our military to bail us out,” Legassie said. “We can make choices that are not selfish, that seek to help everyone. When we need to call in the military, it is a clear sign that we have failed once again to try and live the better life that faith seeks to lead us into.”
Earlier in the service Father John MacPherson prayed for military personnel in all branches abroad and at home for their mission to bring peace and security in other lands and protection from peril or injury.
MacPherson also included in his prayers those who aid the process of recovery for the wounded – the counselors, chaplains, doctors, nurses, caregivers, volunteers, and communities of support.
“And we pray, as well, for those whose lives give birth to evil, for those who pervert the truth and turn to violence, for those who engage in terrorism blinded by the pride and the desire for vengeance,” he said. “For all victims of war and terrorism, and for refugees who seek safety and shelter.”
He also asked that all who have died for our country be rewarded, “and grant that Canada and all nations may continue to work for justice and peace.”
The service also included participation from George Marshall, Legion president Stuart Lenthall-Ascott, Chaplain Cathy Batson, George Marshall, Major Paul Blake, Rev. Brian Wallace, Bridgetown Regional Community School student council president Hailey Saunders, Rev. Jack Skafte, Tony Orlando, Rev. Eugene Foster, and Rev. Joel Hardy.
A highlight of the service was the unveiling of a framed image of the new name for the Bridgetown cadets that has become 686 Passchendaele Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, Bridgetown.