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Decoration Day observed by Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157

Updated: 2 days ago

Veterans at the cenotaph

Decoration Day was held Sunday by Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 with commemorations taking place in three parts.

After a brief ceremony at the cenotaph within King's Navy Yard Park, the official unveiling of street signs with names of veterans and poppies were unveiled. The formalities concluded with Rev. Gene Lotz speaking about veterans from Amherstburg in his book “The Anguish of War.” Lotz's has written several books and has remembered those who were killed in times of war, ranging from the Boer War to the war in Afghanistan.

Capt. Ernie Gazdig CD, president of Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157, noted Decoration Day is a traditional recognition by the branch.

“Unlike Remembrance Day when we reflect on those killed in the Great Wars, we now gather to pay our respects to those unnamed soldiers who succumbed to war-gotten injuries and illnesses, those of which are not listed on the cenotaph,” said Gazdig. “Further and importantly, we value the memory of our Legion members who have passed in the last year.”

During a moment of silence, those at the ceremony at the cenotaph remembered fallen comrades and those who have passed away over the past year. Among those listed were Patrick Bolger, Katherine Blanchard, Reginald Spencer, Patricia Waugh, Peter Nagy, Tom Mailloux, Eddie Delisle and Dalton Moore.

Shawn Wilkie, the Legion's 1st vice-president, said the street sign project has been in the works for several years. There are 44 street signs with names of veterans on them and they are now adorned with poppies on them.

Wilkie noted manager of roads and fleet Eric Chamberlain originally came up with the idea about five years ago with Deputy Mayor Chris Gibb bringing the idea back to town council several months ago. He added those who gave their lives in times of war will forever be remembered.

Andrea Grimes, a civilian veterans advocate, introduced Rev. Lotz and said he delves deeply into the lives of veterans to find out what he could about them, from where they were born, who their parents were, where they went to school, their military service and where they settled down if they were fortunate to return home.

Veterans and councillors pose with new decorated signs at the Legion Br. 157.

Rev. Lotz gave his kudos on the street sign project, stating those who perished in times of war are not forgotten.

“These boys walked the streets you named after them,” he said. “You brought them home. What a fitting way to remember them.”

Rev. Lotz said while names of veterans are seen on monuments, he wanted to find out about the people on the monuments.

“They have lives and families behind the names,” he said.

Dating back to the War of 1812 and the bridge named for Hancock and Dean, Rev. Lotz said Amherstburg residents have been defending the country for decades.

“Amherstburg has been part of forging a nation for over 200 years,” he said.

Between the two World Wars and the Korean War, Rev. Lotz said three pairs of brothers from Amherstburg lost their lives. He profiles all in “The Anguish of War,” the two-volume set being available for $40 at the Marsh Historical Collection.

Rev. Lotz also pointed out the story of Joseph Gore Shepley. He said medals earned by Shepley turned up at a yard sale and Rev. Lotz was contacted by the buyer. After the buyer sent the medals to Shepley, he tracked down more information about Shepley and presented them to Thistle Masonic Lodge No. 34.

“It brings me to tears to learn about the young men and women in my books,” he said.

Smaller communities like Amherstburg are often impacted hard because of the people killed from a small community. He added their families went through a lot as well.

“These veterans gave their lives to forge a nation,” said Rev. Lotz. “Remembering them more than once a year is important.”

Decoration Day observed by Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157

By Ron Giofu

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