Remembrance Project – Day 16: Vigil

Cenotaph_Hespeler

When Hurricane Sandy blew into New England, there were mass evacuations. The soldiers of the Tomb Sentinel, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) remained on Vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery. When Hurricane Isabel blew in, they did not fail then, either. These are obviously American military members, but the commitment persists across all who serve (or have served). I read an article with the comment that not even a hurricane is stronger than a soldier’s sense of duty.

Every year, on the vigil of Remembrance day, many cadet corps and squadrons also do their part to this heritage and spend an overnight vigil at their local cenotaph. Our peers at 296 City of Cambridge Squadron have held vigil at the Galt cenotaph for years. They have a drumhead ceremony at Knox Presbyterian church, and then start their vigil afterward. I have been several times to the drumhead ceremony, and it is truly a beautiful service. When soldiers were in the field, there were no altars available for any religious services. Soldiers would pile their drums to fashion an altar, and drape the drums with their flags or colours.  Now, drumhead ceremonies are held to honour veterans and currently serving military members. May the ceremonies that honour our war dead, our veterans, and our military be many and often.

This year is the first that 21 Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada – Army Cadet Corps is standing vigil, at the cenotaph closest to our sponsoring Royal Canadian Legion, in Hespeler.

When we were planning this event, we asked for help from friends of our corps, and without reservation, they chose to support us in our effort to start the tradition of Remembrance vigil in Hespeler. When we opened it up to cadets to see who was interested in serving some time out in the cold, overnight, they signed up immediately. They understand what an honour it is to serve this duty. One cadet asked to serve all night, because he is going to take the bus, and it stops running. Rather than say that it’s inconvenient, he wants to serve. Another cadet’s father said that his daughter would be here “It is the least [their family] could do.”

Once we had our basic plan in place, an additional opportunity presented itself. We are going to participate in The Bells of Peace project as well.

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I’m humbled at how passionately these children want to show their respects. They know it will be cold, and could be raining or snowing. They are undeterred. This year, may the example these cadets provide inspire me to find my own sense of duty to those who came before.

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