Veterans, their families and supporters of the Royal Canadian Legions will be taking part in Decoration Day ceremonies this weekend.
Veteran spokesperson Roy Eaton says Decoration Day is held annually and a ceremony will be held this Sunday, June 5th at 1 pm at Monument Corners in Spring Bay on Manitoulin Island.
The ceremony is being led by Little Current’s Legion Branch #177 with members adding 129 miniature crosses representing the soldiers engraved on the monument, who fought in World War One, World War Two and the Korean conflict.
He says the public is invited to attend the gathering, which will include a short address and the laying of wreaths.
Decoration Day is a Canadian holiday that recognizes veterans of Canada’s military. The holiday has mostly been eclipsed by the similar Remembrance Day.
Decoration Day began on 2 June 1890. Originally, the celebration served as a form of protest for veterans of the Battle of Ridgeway who felt that their contributions to the protection of Canada during the Fenian Raids were being overlooked by the government. The veterans placed decorations at the Canadian Volunteers Monument near Queen’s Park in Toronto on the anniversary of the battle.
There were 30,000 participants in 1891, the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Ridgeway, and up to 50,000 watched the accompanying parade.
This became an annual event, taking place on the weekend nearest the original date and accumulating more participants as further conflicts resulted in a larger body of Canadian veterans. Participants included veterans of the Fenian Raids, the North-West Rebellion, the Second Boer War, and the First and Second World Wars, the Korean conflict, and most recently, Afghanistan military killed in the line of duty.
The actions of the Fenian veterans resulted in the British creation of service medals recognizing participants in the pre-First World War Canadian conflicts. Canada provided compensation to veterans of the rebellions, but not the Fenian raids; Ontario did provide some recognition at the provincial level. A Ridgeway monument was created in 1916 and made a National Historic Battlefield in 1921.
In 1931, the Armistice Remembrance Day Act established November 11th as Remembrance Day and the official day commemorating military service in Canada.
Photo: One hundred and twenty-nine miniature crosses highlight Monument Corner on Manitoulin Island. Photo – Roy Eaton