One hundred cadets enrolled in the six-week Drill and Ceremonial (D&C) course at Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre travelled to Armstrong Sunday to pay tribute to fallen veterans and to complete their community service project.
Lieutenant (N) Rich Finley, the course officer for the three D&C platoons, grew up in Armstrong and his grandfather is one of the veterans buried in the cemetery.
“I thought that because it was the 100th anniversary of the city, it would be appropriate for 100 cadets and the support staff to take on a project there,” he said.
Lake City Casino in Vernon donated flags to be placed on each veteran’s grave and Shepherd’s Hardware store donated edgers to trim back the weeds.
Joined by a flag party from the Armstrong Legion under the command of Legion Sergeant at Arms Dave Ciccone, the cadets formed up in the Armstrong-Spallumcheen cemetery.
Padre Jack Greenhalgh explained the purpose of the event and Len Gamble, a Legion member and historian described the men who had died while serving in the armed forces during the first and second world wars. Each veteran’s grave was identified by a Canadian flag and a brief biography.
After the playing of the Lament by cadet piper Michael O’Sullivan of Calgary, the cadets were assigned areas of the cemetery to clean.
For several hours, the cadets cleared away years of moss and lichen growth from the graves and headstones. Many of the headstones that had tilted over the years were once again leveled and repositioned with assistance from cemetery caretaker Mike Hodge. A pressure washer made headstones look new again.
“The cadets worked like mules,” said Lt. Finley. “They didn’t want to quit.”
Gamble, has written two books on the history of soldiers from Armstrong.
“It was very appropriate and a most welcome contribution from the cadets on the 100th anniversary of Armstrong,” he said.
Gamble was also impressed at how hard the cadets worked during the four-hour session and how many of the graves they managed to clean.
Cadet Michael O’Sullivan from Calgary played his bagpipes in the background as the cadets worked through the afternoon.