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Remembrance Day service held

Those gathered at the Neilburg Community Hall Nov. 11 were reminded that we are Fragile and that None of Us are Free by the Neilburg Composite School senior band's interpretation of these contemporary songs.
Ashlee Goodfellow was the second place winner in the Neilburg Legion's Remembrance Day black and white poster contest.  Ashlee is a Grade 11 student at Neilburg Composite School.

Those gathered at the Neilburg Community Hall Nov. 11 were reminded that we are Fragile and that None of Us are Free by the Neilburg Composite School senior band's interpretation of these contemporary songs. The band was led by Murray MacDonnell of Lashburn.

Ken Ostensoe, president of the Neilburg branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, was MC. The colour party was led by Sergeant-at-Arms Glenn Goodfellow and consisted of Dave Rogers, Everett Putnam, Pat Gibbons and Bert Wakefield.

Margaret Chibri was the pianist for the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers, as well as both O Canada and God Save the Queen.

After the traditional ceremony, with the Last Post and the Act of Remembrance, Jerry Petovello read the poem, In Flanders Fields by Lt. Col. John McCrae. This poem was written May 3, 1915, after the poet had witnessed the death of a 22-year-old friend the previous day. Until his own passing, Petovello's father-in-law, Neil Lamb, recited this moving poem at the local Remembrance Day ceremonies.

The honour roll of war dead was read, as usual, but this year first names were included, instead of just initials, which was even more moving for those of us who never met these brave men who fought for our freedom in World Wars I and II. Grant Doolittle thanked the donors to the Poppy Fund and emphasized how these donations go back to help the local community.

In recognition of this, a cheque was presented to Brian Gibb, to be given to his daughter Alanna. Alanna's husband, Lt. Justin Boyes was killed in Afghanistan Oct. 28, 2009, when there was an explosion while he was leading a foot patrol southwest of Kandahar City. His death came only 10 days into the 26-year-old infantryman's second tour of duty in the country. The money is to be used as part of an educational trust fund for the couple's young son, James.

As a special tribute to Boyes, the Last Post was played a second time, as those in attendance paused to remember his personal sacrifice. The Canadian death toll in Afghanistan currently stands at 158.

Pastor Mel Letkeman, of Manitou Evangelical Free Church, gave the inspirational address, speaking of the "battle for the mind." Letkeman noted how the two World Wars were once called "the wars to end all wars;" however, "the battle goes on and battles continue to be fought."

"The 'battle for the mind' began in the Garden of Eden," declared Letkeman. "People want what they can't have. People want what they don't need." He quoted Ephesians 6, verses 10 and 11 and told those in attendance to "put on the full armour of God. Arm yourself for the battle. Get the help you need from God. If we could win the battle for the mind, it truly would be the war to end all wars."

Wreaths were laid with Glenn Hegel announcing each participant and who or what organization they were specifically remembering. As well as those laid on behalf of the Government of Canada, the Province of Saskatchewan, the Villages of Neilburg and Marsden and the two Rural Municipalities of Hillsdale and Manitou Lake, many wreaths were presented in memory of local veterans who have passed away.

Ostensoe gave the president's message, indicating that the local branch has approximately 70 members but they are always looking for others who would care to join their ranks. Younger members are needed to carry on the footwork of the organization. He was pleased with the recent restoration work on the statue outside the local Legion Hut and spoke about the grand opening, held earlier this year, to showcase the renovations done to the building.

He also thanked Everett Putnam, who is stepping down as the treasurer after 18 years of dedicated service, andNuala Lindsay, who hasbeen the secretary for many years. She is also leaving her executive position.

Ostensoe also notedthe local branch only has six veterans on the membership roster: George Ford, Les Graham, Jim Pattison, Grant Doolittle, Maurice Lane and Russell Goodfellow. Those in the crowd gave a spontaneous standing ovation to these men, many of whom were unable to be present at the service.

The award winners for the Remembrance Day poster, poetry and essay contests were announced with those present receiving certificates. There were 213 entries in total from students in the Marsden and Neilburg area. (Names will be published separately). Winning entries will now be passed on for judging at higher levels. After the retiring of the colour party, a bountiful lunch was served to all members of the community who cared to stay and visit.