A previously forecast arctic breeze didn’t deter the more than 600 residents who congregated in front of city hall on Tuesday morning from observing Remembrance Day. And as five elderly World War II veterans sat mournfully in front of the Cenotaph, nearby supporters were quick to wrap them in blankets to make sure they were warm.
Retired US Navy petty officer Raab Smith, who recently moved to Nelson with his family, put his arms around retired Canadian warrant officer Lionel Vinette, who had been invited to recite “In Flander’s Fields” for all those gathered.
Smith, who said the legion has welcomed him with open arms since his arrival, said he felt solidarity with all the veterans present because they’d “shed the same blood in the same mud”.
He called Vinette “a true hero”.
Nelson D-Day survivor Ron Cox was at the ceremony, as was Chuck Clarkson, who was a private during World War II and fought from 1942 to 1945.
He said he felt “pretty damn lucky” to attend the ceremony.
The flags were at half-mast during the ceremony to pay tribute to Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the soldier shot and killed at Ottawa’s Canadian War Memorial on October 22. The Nelson Legion’s padre reminded those gathered of the continued necessity of having armed forces.
A solitary protester, well known to many in the community, was the only voice of dissent at the event. A minor physical scuffle was quickly resolved.