Rotary Hall was made ready as it has been many times over the years to honour local veterans. The tables were dressed in red table clothes and vases of poppies. Uniforms of different services guard corners of the room. A cabinet containing momentos of a soldier who had suffered severely was displayed and a framed poster of Colour of Honour depicting medals awarded by Canada since 1793 for service and valour was hung on the wall.
Much of the program for the evening was routine but important ceremonial events such as the playing of the Last Post and the words..”They shall not grow old” were given with conviction. The number of invited veterans has been dwindling since the Second World War and now we were down to a half dozen some being peace time veterans. The evening was not only for them but for the ones that could not be here and that we owe so much.
What was not routine for this tribute evening was our 15 year old speaker, Austin Witter. Austin is a Tavistock resident and a student in the Enrichment Program at College Avenue Secondary School in Woodstock. This past summer he attended the D-Day Commemoration ceremonies in France as part of the contingent from his school. Fluent in French, he acted as translator for his group while in France. Their trip included Vimy.
Austin gave us an inspiring talk about Canada and our freedoms and opportunities won by soldiers of the past. He does not have a cell phone because he is too busy looking up instead of down. There was no doubt that this young man has great potential and a will to safeguard our future.