By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES – Remembrance Day ceremonies were held at the cenotaph on Grand Bay Road on Thursday, Nov. 11. The chilling winds had people bundled up against the cold, but in spite of the weather, an impressive crowd was in attendance.
The ceremonies began with the playing of the Last Post, followed by a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. Wreaths were then laid at the War Memorial in honour of the fallen.
Nelson Lillington, President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 11 in Port aux Basques, led the ceremonies. He has been president of the Legion for nearly three years and served in the Royal Canadian Navy from 1991 to 2016 before retiring. He was pleased with the turn out from the town to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Mayor Brian Button attended and laid a wreath on behalf of the town to honour veterans.
“The turnout was fantastic. You know, the weather conditions held up, thankfully. We expected a little more weather-wise, but it’s chilly, it’s cold. But when you think about it in perspective, just think about what our veterans had to endure in their time. This was only a small sacrifice that we made today,” said Button.
The Mayor shared that the day has special significance for his family.
“I have a brother that’s done over thirty-plus years in the military, and a few tours and stuff. And like a lot of people in this community, this community has been affected by war, especially when we think about the S.S. Caribou.”
The S.S. Caribou, a Newfoundland Railway passenger ferry, was attacked and sunk by a German U-boat on Oct. 14, 1942. The ferry participated in a regular convoy that sailed between Port aux Basques and Nova Scotia. One hundred and thirty-seven people died, among them women and children. This marked the arrival of WWII on the Canadian home front.
Button also praised residents for coming out to pay their respects.
“It’s a good time to come out and honour our veterans and take the time out, so it’s fantastic, especially when you see a crowd continue to come out. And I think the crowds grow more and more every year because of the appreciation of our veterans.”
Also in attendance was MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – La Poile).
“I thought it was a wonderful turnout on a cold but clear day, and I think it’s more important than ever. Just before my wife and I were talking about how we have fewer and fewer veterans, especially from the great 20th century conflicts that are still with us, and I think it’s more important than ever that we keep making time for Remembrance Day, keep telling our children in school about it. And when you see your community show up, I think it sends a signal of appreciation and thanks for their bravery, for their service.”