For the third year, local cadets have participated in Wreaths Across Canada; an initiative to place Christmas wreaths on the graves of service men and women who gave their lives in the defense of Canada and its freedoms today. This year’s edition took place on Sunday 3 December 2017 at locations throughout Cornwall, South Stormont, North and South Glengarry with thee air cadet squadrons and an army cadet corps participating.
The cadet units were from Cornwall (325 Air Cadet Squadron and 2403 Army Cadet Corps), Alexandria (379 Air Cadet Squadron) and Lancaster (253 Air Cadet Squadron). Around 30 cadets helped lay the wreaths as a sign of respect, helping our communities continue to remember.
56 wreaths were placed this year throughout various cemeteries, an increase of 8 wreaths from last year as we continue to expand our list. The original intent was to place wreaths on graves of those who passed during or due to injuries from WWI and WWII, however, some unknown sites (not registered with the Commonwealth Graves Commission) as well as adding in additional wars including Korean, Gul and Afghanistan wars. An additional 9 wreaths have already been determined will be added next year (2018) as we continue to expand and find more individuals to honour.
Wreaths Across Canada was an initiative started in 2008 by WO (Ret’d) Craig McPhee. The first wreaths were laid in 2009 in Newfoundland. The initiative has expanded across Canada where thousands of wreaths are place on headstones of military individuals on the first Sunday of every December.
“Wreaths across Canada is a great opportunity to honour the fallen soldiers in our area as well as show that we haven’t forgotten the sacrifices they have made” said FSgt Amberlyn McDougald, who has participated every year in laying wreaths. “It also gives their family a sense of comfort in knowing that their loved one didn’t die in vain. Overall, I believe it’s a great experience for the cadets to learn about our history and truely understand how grave the war can be.”
The focus of the Canadian Cadet movement is to build a sense of community, leadership and pride in youth, aged 12-18. With a strong military style of education, and support from National Defense, having local cadets participate each year helps build valuable characteristics and a sense of responsibility in our youth. It is important that we help our youth remember; remember what war can bring and the losses from our past for the freedoms we sometimes take for granted today.