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    Bob Howell (left), and his son Scott Howell (right) place candles at the base of the Afghanistan stone of the Petawawa Cenotaph.

    Father and son crouch at Afghanistan stone of Petawawa Cenotaph and place candles
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    Other Candlelight Ceremony participants included Debbie Coughlan, Zone G-7 Public Relations Officer, who also placed a candle at the November 9 event.

    Woman places candle at Petawawa Cenotaph stone



Petawawa Legion hosts annual Candlelight Ceremony

By Lisa Brazeau

Posted on Thursday November 19, 2020

Red candles flickered at the foot of the Petawawa Cenotaph, their flames like illuminated poppies swaying in the wind.

Placed at the monument on Nov. 9, they remained there until Nov. 11, each one representing a lost loved one, a fallen comrade, an absent friend.

“On this evening of remembrance, we welcome everyone to celebrate the lives of our comrades, of our friends, and those who can no longer be with us,” said Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 Petawawa Ladies’ Auxiliary President Helene Hahn at the launch of the Legion’s annual Candlelight Ceremony. “In the darkness, we feel the most despair. May the light from these candles open a path to remembering the special memories of our comrades and loved ones.”

Those who attended the annual service filed quietly out of the Legion into the chill autumn evening, their faces illuminated as they lined the bases of the cenotaph’s five stones with candles. They burned as tribute, but also a reminder of the fragility of life and the cost of freedom.

“We’ve lost a lot of people from this town, and that’s what this is all about,” said Branch 517 President Ralph Kendrick, gazing at the collective glow of dozens of tiny flames.

“Each year (the ceremony) is getting bigger and bigger,” he added, noting with this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies scaled back, it’s nice to have a tangible reminder of someone special at the cenotaph when many will be marking the day at home.

Among those participating was Tom Brushett, a retired Canadian Armed Forces member who placed candles for his father, Tom Brushett Sr., his uncle and brother. All three were military members and his father and uncle had served in World War II.

“Remembrance Day for me has always been a special day,” he said. “My dad passed away a couple years back, he was 91 ... and I was very close to my father. I’ve been doing this now for a few years, it’s just a little something extra.”

The service is usually held in conjunction with the Legion’s Armistice Dinner, which was postponed this year because of the pandemic.