Two centenarians honoured guests at Saint John Remembrance Day ceremonies

Two centenarians honoured guests at Saint John Remembrance Day ceremonies
Two born same year as armistice honoured at Remembrance Day ceremony in N.B.
Two centenarians were honoured guests as Saint John Remembrance Day ceremonies marked 100 years since the end of World War One.  

George Kelley was the reviewing officer of the ceremony. The 100-year-old fought with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. 

Mary Richards was a nurse in the veterans affairs hospital for 30 years. She was born in 1918, before the armistice ending the First World War was signed.

Richards and Kelley placed the first wreath on the cenotaph in the centre of the arena together, while the Combined Remembrance Service choir sang In Flanders Fields.

Saint John Harbour MLA Gerry Lowe and Saint John mayor Don Darling both placed wreaths while the Simonds Lions Caledonian Pipe Band played Amazing Grace.

The remembrance ceremony featured many musical performances, including the playing of the national anthem, trumpet solo The Rouse, and Newfoundland artist Terry Kelly's A Pittance of Time, which master of ceremonies Retired Lt. Bernard Cormier called "a tradition" of the city's remembrance.

The firing of a cannon outside marked the beginning and ending of the two-minute moment of silence. The poppy-studded crowd inside fell to a hush.

"But that is not all we think about. We think about joyous reunions, messages of hope and love, we think about rehabilitation and healing."

Cormier spoke of how Canada achieved nation status by signing the treaty after the Second World War separately from the British Empire.

"This nationhood was purchased by the gallant men who stood fast at Ypres, stormed Regina Trench, climbed the heights of Vimy, captured Passchendaele and entered Mons on November 11, 1918," he said.

Cormier remarked on New Brunswick's contribution, not only in men who fought, but those who supported the war effort through nursing or remaining home to work in armament factories.

For those who serveOther speeches of the day called for acknowledgement of the sacrifice of all those who serve, and their families.

"We remember the mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, parents and children who said goodbye, not knowing it was the last time," he said.

Rev. Gregory L. McMullin delivered a prayer for the fallen, and for those "forever changed by what they had seen."

"May the remembering we have done here today reawaken and strengthen our resolve to labour for peace."

Rev. Michael Caines, a captain, encouraged the crowd to applaud in support of police and RCMP officers who also make sacrifices for the public.

"These are not easy days to be a police officer. Just a few years ago we know it was not easy to be a police officer in the city of Moncton. And we know that this year it was not easy to be a police officer in the city of Fredericton," he said.

The ceremony ended with a march past the cenotaph on the arena floor where attendees were encouraged to lay their poppies. 

"To have two people born the year the armistice was signed here today made it very special," said master of ceremonies Cormier during his closing remarks.

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SAINT JOHN, N.B. — Two New Brunswickers born the same year as the signing of the armistice were honoured at a Remembrance Day ceremony in Saint John today.

With his hand raised in a salute, George OKelly watched over the march past. He was born the same year as the armistice, and at 100 years old, OKelly was the reviewing officer for todays service.

OKelly is a Second World War veteran who went overseas as an air mechanic with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

I had no great patriotic desire to go to war, said OKelly, But everyone else was going, so why not.

We lost people and wed go down to the tavern, get some beer and start talking and you know, somebody says, oh he died and he was the most wonderful guy, well we would be saying – he was the best damn guy there ever ways, said OKelly.

But OKelly says he left the war with some good memories as well, meeting his wife of 52 years during that time.

They actually met at a dance and were apart for a year and they wrote letters back and forth for the entire year until she was able to come to Canada. She was from England, St. Netos, said OKellys granddaughter, Cst. Kelly McIntyre.

100-year-old Mary Richards was also born the year of armistice, she worked as a former nurse caring for veterans of both World Wars and felt the heavy losses of war right at home.

I had four brother s in service, two of them went overseas and they didnt come back, said Richards.

I remember them as two young very athletic young men. They were both into sports and like young fellas today, enjoyed life, she said.

The two centenarians laid a wreath in memory of fallen comrades at todays ceremony at Harbour Station.

"They were both born in the year the armistice was signed, they were both born before the armistice was signed. That connection to the past, we thought that would make the event special, said Master of Ceremonies, Bernard Cormier.

The two share a fading connection to the past, but one that helps ensure future generation never forget.

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