The Cenotaph in the Grande Parade in Halifax was the ideal venue for culmination of the first event of the 44th biannual Dominion Convention of the Royal Canadian Legion in Halifax on Sunday.
At the top of the War Memorial, above the figure of a victorious but grieving Britannia, are inscribed the words ‘In honour of those who served, In Memory of those who fell.’ It is also a good description of the Legion’s raison d’etre.
More than 700 legionnaires, veterans, cadets and members of the armed forces, as well as five bands marched the 10 blocks or so from Victoria Park to the Grand Parade, a tradition-soaked military parade square dating from the founding of the city in 1749.
Then followed a solemn service of remembrance during which Dominion President Patricia Varga and Grand President Larry Murray recited the Act of Remembrance in English and French. Wreaths were placed by National Silver Cross Mother Patty Braun, Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney, by representatives of the Canadian Forces and RCMP, local and regional governments, by Varga on behalf of veterans and by Jean-Marie Deveaux, President of Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command, host of the conference.
During the opening ceremonies, which followed soon after in the Halifax Metro Centre, paper poppies rained down before the stage during the two minutes’ silence.
Blaney remarked on the many important roles the Legion plays, not only advocating for veterans, but also in “passing the torch to a new generation.”
Grand President Larry Murray described the many ways the “living tradition” of the Legion has touched his personal and professional life before declaring open the convention.
The afternoon wrapped up with a touching Sunset Ceremony and Ceremony of the Flags featuring a sharp performances by Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. During the ceremony sculptors Jospeh Landry and Brian Gazeley, in association with cadet organizations, presented 14 sets of busts of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to the provincial and dominion commands in recognition of the contribution “both the Royal Canadian Legion and Canadian Cadet Program to Canada’s national social fabric.”