Verdun remembers today

By Tracey Arial

Verdun Legion Remembrance Day Services will take place tomorrow, Sunday, November 2, from 1:45 until about 4 p.m.

“Our parade has always been the first Sunday in November and we’ve decided to do that again this year,” said Stan Kircoff, president and poppy chairman of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 4, Verdun. “Our colour party and our executive goes downtown on Remembrance Day itself, even now.”

The ceremony in Verdun will be extra special this year because it will be the 60th for parade marshal Graydon Fytes, a Korean War veteran in his eighties.

“He’s one of our life members,” said Kircoff. “We have two life members in our branch. The other is Ross Neal, a past president. Every year, Graydon says that this is his last time leading the parade. He walks with a walker, but when the parade starts, get that walker out of the way, because he just goes.”

Fytes is renowned for his dedication to his volunteer duties. His daughter Joy says that he participates every year no matter what. One year, he even participated with a broken arm, refusing to wear his sling that day because it covered his medals.

Tomorrow, Fytes, Branch 4 Legion members and the other parade participants will meet in front of the Cenotaph in front of City Hall on Verdun Avenue at about 1:45 p.m. The police will be there to shut down the street and keep everyone in line.

At 2 p.m., the Black Watch pipes and drums will begin playing. The Branch 4 colour party will march with five flags, Canada, Quebec, the Branch 4 flag, the United Nations flag and the Union Jack.

They’ll be followed by colour parties from four other Royal Canadian Branches: 127 Pointe St. Charles, 212 LaSalle, 98 St. Laurent and 24106 NDG.

Everyone will march north on Willibrord Street to the City Hall parking lot, past City Hall and then into the park between the City Hall and the Metro for the ceremony itself.

The Last Post will play, followed by Reveille.

After a prayer in English by Catholic Reverend George Oakes from Thomas Moore, and one in French by United Reverand David Lefneski, wreathes will be laid.

In addition to the Legion representatives, local politicians will also lay wreaths. Federal Member of Parliament Tyrone Benskin, Member of Provincial Parliament Jacques Daoust, Verdun borough mayor Jean-François Parenteau and local councillor and Legion member Stirling Downey plan to participate.

After the ceremony, parade chairman Fytes will march everyone but the dignitaries down First Avenue, left on Wellington and then up Willibrord back to the front of City Hall, where the provincial president of the Royal Canadian Legion will take the closing salute.

Then everyone will go back to the Legion for some snacks.

A band plays and people reminisce and they talk,” said Kircoff. “We’ve moved, so our branch is limited for space but we squeeze about 130 people into the hall.”

After this week’s ceremony, everyone will begin preparing for the next service on Sunday, November 9 in LaSalle.
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