Remembrance Day is personal for Gananoque mayor

The most recent name inscribed on the cenotaph in Gananoque in front of Town Hall is that of Corporal Randy Payne.

He was one of four Canadian soldiers killed in 2006 when their light-armoured G-Wagon vehicle was blown onto its side by a roadside bomb near Gumbad, approximately 75 kilometres north of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Cpl Payne survived the initial blast but died after emergency surgery at the hospital at the Kandahar air base.

“I was on the ramp in Kandahar when we put him on the plane and sent him home,” said an emotional John Beddows, the mayor of Gananoque, and a 30-year military veteran. “It’s the business we’re in, which is doing what needs to be done so other people can do whatever they want to do.”

On Saturday, Gananoque will hold a Remembrance Day ceremony at the town cenotaph at 11 a.m. It will be Beddows’ first as mayor of the town.

Payne's name is also one of 19 honoured on Mallorytown's Remembrance Road, where locals held a ceremony on Friday.

During Saturday's Gananoque ceremony, a marching contingent from the Canadian Forces Base Kingston is expected to participate; the cenotaph guard and vigil will be provided by members of the Joint Signals Regiment in Kingston; the band from Queen’s University will perform; the Gananoque Choir will be signing the national anthem and God Save the King, two volunteers from Gananoque Secondary School will read the names of the fallen during the service.

“Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on the fact that men and women put the welfare of others before their personal safety and before their own lives,” said Beddows. “And as veterans, all we ask, is that at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, you stop for a minute. That’s it. And if it occurs, think also of the men and women on the North Atlantic and the Pacific, in the air and on the ground around the world, currently wearing the Maple Leaf, who are doing the same thing today.

"And when you have a thought for the men and women who are currently serving, have a thought for their families who are worried for them and who are without them on this Remembrance Day.”

After the service, everyone is invited back to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 92 at 55 King Street East for some beverages and food. All are welcome to attend.

Remembrance Day ceremonies are scheduled to take place across the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands as well, at the following locations: Lyndhurst (Saturday at 10:30 a.m.); Seeley’s Bay (Saturday at 10:30 a.m.); Rockport (Saturday at 1 p.m.); and Mallorytown (Saturday at 10:45 a.m.). A ceremony was held in Lansdowne at the Veterans Memorial (TIES School) on Friday at 10:30 a.m.

(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times