By Sue Tiffin
Bitter cold did not prevent a multigenerational crowd including localdignitaries veterans and school children from lining Bobcaygeon Roadeither sitting on the bleachers some wrapped under blankets orstanding further down the way all quietly facing the cenotaph to markRemembrance Day on Nov. 11 at Minden’s Service of Remembrance.
Theceremony on the 100th anniversary of the first official Armistice Dayincluded a parade down the town’s main street led by piper FraserMcDonald and Sergeant-at-Arms Richard Schell which included the colourparty of the Minden Legion Branch 636 army cadets and members of theguiding and scouting community. Army cadets took their place stoicallyguarding the cenotaph switching out from time to time throughout theceremony.
The Last Post Lament and Reveille was performed by Andy Salvatori and Padre Joan Cavanaugh spoke a prayer of remembrance.During the Laying of the Wreaths more than 60 memorial wreaths werelaid to honour those who have served with the Silver Cross Mother Beth Frith laying the first and Comrade Richard Schell laying the last inmemory of the unknown soldier.
Children waiting at the ceremony aspart of the Archie Stouffer Elementary School choir quietly shared thatthey were cold but when their time to sing came they did so clearlydespite the wind standing in a line facing the crowd back to back with the colour guard as they prepared to march to end the ceremony. Student Landyn Simms recited a poem. Minden Legion president Jim Ross recitedOde of Remembrance from For the Fallen the crowd responding “We willremember them.”
After the ceremony ended old friends greeted eachother and returned to the Minden Legion for a reception where hot bowls of chili and samosas were served to a large crowd.
The samosas are a tradition at the Minden Legion a gesture from Kamal Sethi and his wife Aruna. They cottaged on South Lake for almost a decade and though they now live full-time in Richmond Hill Kamal said his loyalty is with the Minden Legion.
“In fact we got connected to the Legion before weeven bought the cottage when we used to come and have a look I’d stopin for a coffee run” he said. Soon enough he had become a member. Hesaid his friends in the city ask him to join a local branch.
“I’ve resisted” he said. “I’ve said no. Minden is my home base and that’s where I’ll be going even if I have to commute.”
Kamal served with the King’s African Rifles of the British Army in Africaenlisting in 1962. He was involved in combat fighting the Somalis andwas wounded in combat. His life history which he said has been full oflove and support is recorded in a self-published autobiography entitled Shaping Destiny .
“My mission in life now is to pay back” he said. “To help all those who are in need to get ahead because I was in their position at one time looking searching struggling to find who couldopen the door for me who could show me the way and a lot of strangersopened the door for me showed me the way inspired me.”
It’s one ofthe reasons he and Aruna contribute to the Remembrance Day ceremony with samosas – 200 this year because Aruna said 100 did not last long theyear before.
“We do that here and also for one or two othermilitary functions in Toronto because the military is so close to myheart” said Kamal. “And to me anything to do with the military togive back is never enough.”
They make an effort to attend Minden’sRemembrance Day ceremony where Kamal lays the wreath in memory of those who were lost in ground warfare. He takes pride in the ceremony.
“Outstanding” said Kamal. “Very well-attended very dignified and with the coldweather aside … I’ve attended ceremonies here when it’s been snowingwhen it’s been raining when it’s been brutally cold like this morningwas cold but look at the attendance. Look at the young kids. Look atthe elderly folks. How they brave the elements and bear through rightthrough all of it. That to me is a testimony to love for the veteranswhich the community around gives and that’s absolutely priceless.”
Visit the Minden Times Facebook page to see a performance of A Wish forPeace as sung by the ASES choir at their Remembrance Day ceremony heldNov. 8.