Ceremony goes ahead after volunteers step in to replace stolen wreaths

·1 min read
Veteran Laura Wooldridge touches the gravestone of her husband Gilbert Barre, who served with the Royal 22nd Regiment, after laying a wreath, at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa, on Sunday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)
Veteran Laura Wooldridge touches the gravestone of her husband Gilbert Barre, who served with the Royal 22nd Regiment, after laying a wreath, at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa, on Sunday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press - image credit)

A wreath-laying ceremony to honour Canadian Armed Forces members was able to go forward this weekend despite thousands of the handmade decorations being stolen only a week before.

Dozens of volunteers rallied together, putting in extra hours Saturday to make new wreaths after the theft of nearly 3,000 of them from a property in Maxville, Ont., southeast of Ottawa at the end of November.

They toiled away and made enough for Sunday's ceremony at the National Military Cemetery, located inside Ottawa's Beechwood Cemetery.

"It was that kick in the teeth and it was really painful, right, because it's you're stealing from a community," said Nick McCarthy, vice-president of Wreaths Across Canada, a non-profit organization that creates the handmade wreaths to remember and honour military members and their families.

McCarthy commended the extra hours of effort volunteers put in to ensure Sunday's ceremony went forward.

Justin Tang/Canadian Press
Justin Tang/Canadian Press

Margaret Mackenzie appreciated that effort.

"It's a testament to how the military community, veterans, families, serving members and allies really believe in being together and being connected and doing something," she said.

Mackenzie knows the hardships and demands that come with being part of a military family. Her husband served in the Canadian Forces for 30 years. They moved dozens of times and spent hundreds of hours apart.

She said wreath-laying ceremonies show gratitude for those who have served.

"We wouldn't be here without without this, without all these military people who help us," she said.

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