The Haliburton legion brought families and students together to honour the sacrifices of veterans with its first annual Veterans Decoration Day Sept. 16.

Branch 129 Haliburton invited veterans’ families and Haliburton Highlands Secondary School (HHSS) students to St. Anthony Cemetery and Evergreen Cemetery. Attendees placed approximately 180 crosses on veterans’ gravesites.

Public relations officer Linda Heeps said she is pleased by how the event went. She added it is important to recognize veterans through initiatives like this.

“We need to rethink about how lucky we are to live in a world that’s free,” Heeps said. “We have it all because of these people.”

The legion hopes to make the new event an annual tradition. The day stems from Heeps work over two years creating a database for veterans buried in Haliburton. Through that, the legion plans to get federal funding to place new tombstones and refurbish old ones.

Heeps said other organizations donated to support the event, including the Haliburton Legion’s Ladies Auxiliary and the Haliburton and District Lions Club.

Sandra Oakley attended to place markers on the graves of her father, Russel Woodcock and uncle Neil Woodcock.

“It’s great that they honour the veterans because we wouldn’t have the country we have today if it wasn’t for them,” Oakley said. “I’m thankful to the people who have done all the work for this occasion.”

The Haliburton legion partnered with the HHSS’s leadership class last year to help with the research for the database. Teacher Paul Longo said it is important for students to make connections with their local community.

“It’s a wonderful way for them to connect with our past here in the county,” Longo said. “It really means something to them.”

“It’s really special that we were asked to be a part of it,” student Sydney Churko said. “It’s good for us as students to do something nice.”

Heeps said the day was held in September to ensure students could be involved.

“I want them to know how important the veterans are.”

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