Late Afghanistan veteran, P.E.I. soldier honoured during Charlottetown Remembrance Day service
'He grew up a typical Canadian boy who loved dogs'
Surrounding the cenotaph in front of Province House, many people gathered in the heart of Charlottetown on Sunday to honour the fallen and remember those who have served.
Among the crowd that gathered downtown were members of the Royal Canadian Legion, HMCS Queen Charlotte, the Prince Edward Island Regiment and band, the 36th Signal Regiment, RCMP, Charlottetown police, #23 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, the #148 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps and others.
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Kent MacDonald, vice president of the Charlottetown Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, emceed Sunday's service.
"Our ceremony today is especially dedicated to remembering those who have gone before us, by those who have served, by those who are serving now," he said. "Family, friends and our community, come together today united in respect and remembrance."
Marking 100 years since the end of the First World War, special attention was paid to those who served in that conflict and the many thousands of Canadians that lost their lives.
"One hundred years ago World War One ended with armistice. A declaration ending conflict amongst the participants of that war," MacDonald said.
"At that time World War One was called the 'War to end all wars.' Unfortunately, that did not hold true and we have seen a multitude of other conflicts."
'Although he was gone, he was not forgotten'
Major Rev. Tom Hamilton delivered the historical address, speaking of an Island veteran who fought and died in World War One.
"He was a young farmer from P.E.I., Private John Watts Sanderson. Before he reached the enemy trenches he was struck by an enemy bullet and killed. This young solider from P.E.I. could easily have been forgotten," he said.
"He was only one of a handful of Maritimers in the 78th battalion."
But this soldier was never forgotten by his family, Hamilton said. Sanderon's great niece visited a British cemetery in France. In front of his grave, she read aloud a letter that he was to receive but was killed before he could ever see it.
It was a letter from Sanderson's mother, telling him he was loved.
"Although he was gone, he was not forgotten," Hamilton said.
"Remembrance Day is not about glorifying war, Remembrance Day is our opportunity to honour Canada's fallen, including Private John Watts Sanderson."
Memorial Cross Wreath
Dianna MacDougall was the ceremony's Memorial Cross Mother and she laid the Memorial Cross Wreath on behalf of all mothers who have lost children in service.
Her son, Master Cpl. Scott MacDougall, saw duty in Afghanistan and was decorated with the Canadian Forces Sacrifice medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Star, MacDonald said.
MacDougall was injured while on patrol after his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. After six weeks in hospital, he returned to complete his tour of duty.
"He grew up a typical Canadian boy who loves dogs, played the guitar and had a great passion for skateboarding and competitive snow boarding," MacDonald said. "A soldier who completed his tour of duty a decorated and respected solider, but also suffering from combat stress injuries."
The post-traumatic stress "haunted him for years" MacDonald said, and on April 4, 2018, in Petawawa, Ont., MacDougall died.
We as a country, an extended community, must redouble our efforts to help our returning veterans.— Kent MacDonald
"We as a country, an extended community, must redouble our efforts to help our returning veterans," MacDonald said.
MacDougall had a "special love" for a cottage he owned on P.E.I.'s south shore, he added. MacDougall's parents, with the help of some local organizations, intend to offer the beachfront property as a retreat as a tribute to his memory.
Events to take in following the service
Following the service, everyone was invited to the Department of Veterans Affairs' Remembrance Day open house at the Daniel J. MacDonald Building.
People were also invited to the Charlottetown Legion on Pownal street to meet and speak with the many veterans on-site.
The military museum at the Queen Charlotte Armoury is open to the public until 4 p.m. The ringing of the Bells of Peace will take place at 4:45 p.m., when churches in Charlottetown and across Canada will sound 100 bell tolls to commemorate the end of World War One.
The ceremony began around 10:45 a.m. today and was livestreamed here and on the CBC P.E.I. Facebook page.