Photos by Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press and words by Ian Bailey
Time is thinning the ranks of veterans marking Battle of the Atlantic ceremonies in Victoria, but one still present says the annual event will endure.
When Keith Hunter, a veteran of the Korean War, first began participating in the ceremonies about 20 years ago, there were 50 or 60 veterans from the Second World War and Korean conflict attending ceremonies to mark the 1939-1945 battle that saw more than 3,000 sailors and merchant seamen lose their lives in the Atlantic.
Now he says there are only about six such veterans attending.
They joined 180 Canadian Forces personnel, cadets and band members in a ceremony Sunday that included a march to the cenotaph at the B.C. legislature.
“The old guys that used to march? They’re just getting fewer and fewer on the ground, really,” said Mr. Hunter, a member-at-large in the Chiefs and Petty Officers Association.
Petty Officer 1st Class Graeme LeBlanc instructs Royal Canadian Navy personnel before the start of the parade.
Mr. Hunter said the ceremony will change with, for example, sea cadets taking a larger role. “We’re going to have to change the veterans’ contribution – just have them go down there and sit in chairs – because they can’t march any more.”
Mr. Hunter understands the problem well. “I’m 80. I can’t march. I have to have a wheelchair or a walker,” he said.
Still, he said the ceremony went well in Victoria. “You have to substitute who’s available,” he said. “As far as I am concerned, it should go on forever because the people who died in the Battle of the Atlantic are not here to experience this marching, but it’s a credit to them that this thing even exists.”
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