By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Thanks to the lifting of pandemic restrictions, visitors will once again be able to honour veterans at the Chatham cenotaph on Remembrance Day.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 642 President Len Maynard said “everyone is welcome” and he’s hoping for a good turnout.
“We think more people will be prompted to come out this year,” Maynard said. “I’m all for that, I love a big Remembrance Day.”
On Nov. 11, Canada’s veterans will be celebrated with a march from the Chatham Armoury to the cenotaph by way of the foot bridge in Tecumseh Park.
Veteran’s Walkway will be barricaded off with the ceremony slated to begin at 11 a.m.
Similar to 2020, Remembrance Day activities are again scheduled at the Bradley Centre on Nov. 9. Area politicians, veterans and families will attend the traditional laying of the wreaths and indoor parade, followed by a special dinner for veterans and families.
The ceremony, which is RSVP only and not open to the public, will be televised on Cogeco on Nov. 11.
Maynard, a 30-year veteran of the Canadian military, said being able to gather outdoors, is an opportunity for the public to pay their respects to all veterans.
“It’s nice to see people at the cenotaph,” he added. “It’s not just for the fallen, it’s for the broken.
“Many come back missing limbs or with PTSD,” Maynard said. “Sometimes that part of it (service) is forgotten.”
The legion president said he admires the way the legion members and volunteers have coped during the pandemic.
“I’m very impressed with volunteers and staff who stuck it out throughout the pandemic,” he said, adding they managed to handle “every curve ball COVID threw.”
“They are very dedicated and they made it happen.”
Maynard said plans at the Bradley Centre were made prior to the change in restrictions and scheduled events may be changed in 2022.
The legion’s Poppy Campaign, which raises money to help veterans and their families, is also ongoing throughout Chatham-Kent. Branch 642 currently has about 250 boxes distributed to various stores and organizations.
However, similar to last year, volunteers are not manning the donation sites.
The government changes effectively lift the capacity limits for all organized public events held outdoors as long as attendees wear masks when a physical distance of two metres cannot be maintained.