June 22: Port Colborne Marches Toward Remembrance

Marches and processions have a special place in military history as a way to bring attention to events of importance or to honour those deserving of respect, and the people of Port Colborne embraced this tradition in order to honour their fallen heroes. 

The day began with a formal escort into Port Colborne that included police, fire and Canadian Army Veterans motorcycles that had people pulling over to place a hand over their heart or honk their support.

After a brief ceremony in which the Mayor of Port Colborne welcomed Portraits of Honour, we looked up as we heard many young voices drawing nearer. It was an awe inspiring sight to see dozens of school children marching up the street, each carrying a white cross bearing the face and name of a fallen hero. When they arrived at the stage each climbed the stairs and took their turn finding the portrait that matched the one depicted on their cross. You could see understanding in their eyes as they recognized that these very real heroes had given everything for the freedoms we enjoy.

As the sun began to set, visitors once again gathered in front of the Portraits of Honour stage. As the exhibit closed for the day and a black cloth was draped over the mural, the strains of pipe music could be heard from a nearby hill that is home to the local cenotaph. One by one a large colour guard, members of the armed forces, cadets, firemen, police officer and civilians marched up the hill for a sundown ceremony beneath a waving Canadian flag hung high from a ladder truck. To see these people young and old, those who had experienced military service and those who had not, marching together in appreciation and respect was a truly moving tribute. 

As this is being written from a park bench dedicated to the memory of local fallen hero Corporal Tyler Crooks, near the water and below the cenotaph, it is certain he would have been proud of his community today.