By Michelle Bailey
WINNIPEG — Former Corporal Guy DeCelles stood steadfast with his service dog Lou by his side as he took in today’s Remembrance Day service at RBC Convention Centre.
DeCelles, who served with the Royal Canadian Airborne 1st Command, said November 11 is not the only day he thinks about his time serving his country. He said every day is a day when he thinks about what he lived through and the comrades he said goodbye to.
“I lost two very good friends during my time in Cypress between 1972 and 1977,” DeCelles said, as Lou happily accepted pats on the head from small children who walked by. “You relive the experience over and over again every day, and then we come together on November 11th with others who also experienced pride and pain to do what for us was our job.”
On the third floor of the RBC Convention Centre, no seat was to be had by 10:30 am. People of all ages gathered, nearly 6,000 of them, to pay their respects to those who have represented Canadians in numerous roles within Canada’s military.
One of those was veteran Armand Lavallee. The 79-year-old, born and raised in St. Laurent, Manitoba, was posted throughout Canada for 25 years. While he never served on the front lines, his job within the military was a critical one.
“I was a communications operator in the Armed Forces,” Lavallee stated proudly. “I didn’t carry a gun, but I did provide Morse code and teletype messages for those who did. Everyone had something to do when it came to defending our country and other countries.”
Lavallee is the Chairman of the Joint Veterans Association, which is centrally involved in organizing the service at the RBC Convention Centre.
“Every year, we see more and more people and their families coming here to remember, reflect and pay their respects. To see a standing room only crowd (reporters note: Lavallee needed to take a seat at the media table because there were so many in attendance). There was a bit of a disinterest in Remembrance Day at one point before we experienced the wars in Iraq and Afghanastan. So because there’s a new generation seeing the military in action, there’s a better awareness of what we do.”
Lavallee’s attention diverts to a tiny boy, dressed in a little suit with a poppy on his left lapel.
“That’s our future, and I’m so glad he came to be a part of this.”