Nov. 11 service wraps up busy year for Legion branch

Tony Billett and Gordon McRae lead the colour party as they enter to start Davidson’s Remembrance Day service.

By Joel van der Veen

DAVIDSON — For members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 51, this year has been the busiest in recent memory.

On July 1, the branch unveiled a new monument, a granite pillar bearing the names of 614 men and women from the area who have served their country in uniform.

The $15,000 project, in the works for several years, stands as a companion to the older cenotaph that has stood on Davidson’s main street since 1926.

The next month, the Legion hosted a stop on the “Birth of a Nation” tour, featuring replicas of the planes used in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.

Upwards of 300 people attended a meet-and-greet on Aug. 16, where they could chat with the three pilots and see the Nieuport II replicas up close, while roughly 100 attended a dinner in their honour at the town hall that same night.

Gordon McRae, president of the local Legion branch, said they have a total of 38 members, having added several new recruits in the past year.

“We don’t do a lot, but we do good stuff,” McRae said.

One annual duty is the public Remembrance Day service, organized by the Legion and the Davidson Inter-Church Association (DICA).

Due to an aging membership and declining numbers, the Legion branch announced in 2007 that it would no longer organize a public Nov. 11 service. (Annual services continued at Davidson School.)

Three years later, the Legion branch and local churches joined forces to revive the tradition, and it has continued ever since.

This year’s service drew about 175 people to Davidson Town Hall.

“We are reminded of the sacrifices that were being made and are still being made,” said emcee Mary Jane Morrison.

She said these include both historic battles — like Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, both fought in 1917 — and today’s conflicts, “wars that were and wars that continue.”

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