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Two Granum veterans honoured in special ceremony

Sgt. Bryan Mucha of the RCMP leads the colour guard.

With a cool north wind blowing across the prairie Saturday afternoon, a solemn ceremony paid tribute to two veterans almost lost to time.

Private Robert John Emmit and Trooper Alroy Vernon MacLeod were remembered in a service at the Granum Cemetery.

The graves of both veterans from Granum are now marked with a distinctive military headstone provided by the Last Post Fund.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome everyone to our graveside service today as we remember and honour two local Canadian military veterans who signed up to fight for our country and help protect our freedoms that we enjoy today,” historical society chairman John Connor said.

The graveside service featured a colour party, prayers, speeches, playing of The Last Post and Reveille, and the observance of a minute of silence.

Connor said it is important to remember the many Canadians who have fought in wars and served in peace-keeping missions around the world.

“These wars and actions touched the lives of all Canadians,” Connor said.

Canadians were killed and wounded in action, an d many who returned were forced to live with physical and mental scars.

Other Canadians served the cause at home, working in factories and in other ways to support the military.

“Yet for many of us war is a phenomenon seen through the eyes of a television camera or a journalist’s account of fighting in distant parts of the world,” Connor said. “For all of us in peace time, all wars seem far removed.”

Canadians often take for granted the country’s culture and institutions, as well as their freedoms and democracy.

“The Canadians who went off to war in distant lands went off in the belief the values and beliefs enjoyed by Canadians were being threatened,” Connor said.

The grave of Private Robert Emmit.
The grave of Private Robert Emmit.

Robert Emmit immigrated to Canada from Ireland and enlisted on Nov. 11, 1899 in the First Battalion of the Canadian Highland Light Infantry to fight in the Boer War in South Africa.

“Following a short time as a prisoner of war, Robert returned to Canada a changed man,” Connor said. “He suffered from the classic symptoms of which we now know as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”

“We cannot imagine what he experienced in combat and during his captivity by the Boer soldiers.”

After returning home to Granum, Emmit died in 1915 at the age of 37.

Emmit’s grave was unmarked and was located with the help of ground-penetrating radar.

Alroy MacLeod enlisted on May 3, 1918 in the Royal North West Mounted Police Battalion in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

The grave of Trooper Alroy MacLeod.
The grave of Trooper Alroy MacLeod.

MacLeod served in Great Britain during World War One. He died in 1930 at the age of 33.

Foothills MP John Barlow said it is difficult for most Canadians to imagine what it is like to serve in battle and the sacrifices that were made in the name of peace and freedom.

“I think what this also does is highlight the fact that Remembrance Day isn’t the only day that we should be remembering and honouring the men and women who served in uniform and our first responders,” Barlow said. “We should take a moment almost every day to say thank you for the work that they have done.”

Barlow praised the Granum historical society and the Last Post Fund for their work to honour veterans.

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Roger Reid also reflected on the important work to honour veterans.

“We are only a generation or two away from some of the greatest conflicts that have turned this world upside-down,” Reid said. “And days like today are important milestones to mark those events for the next generation.”

Glenn Miller of the Last Post Fund spoke of the organization’s commitment to find and recognize veterans across Canada with dignified remembrance.

Miller urged people to search their own family trees for veterans who have not been honoured with a marker and contact the Last Post Fund.

“If we find one veteran in the middle of nowhere it’s worth it,” Miller said. “We are always inspired by our motto and that motto is engraved on every stone that we place. Three simple words: Lest we forget.”

The Granum and District Historical Society has located the graves of 24 veterans now marked with a red metal maple leaf.

“Through our research and with the help of the Last Post Fund we will continue to recognize and find these veterans and thank them for their service,” master of ceremonies Mike Sherman said.

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