Volunteers are still needed to stand at the Decoration Day Ceremony

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Unlike any other Changing of the Guard ceremony in the country, Regina RUSI invites civilian volunteers to stand in 15-minute shifts as sentries with military personnel for Decoration Day on June 5.

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Organizers are always on the lookout for members of the public from across Saskatchewan to participate in a unique ceremony that will see civilians stand alongside serving members to remember the more than 118,000 Canadian service members who have given their lives in combat. .

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A military Changing of the Guard ceremony, similar to what is happening at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, is scheduled to take place June 5 at the Regina Cenotaph in Victoria Park. A six-person sentry will stand around the cenotaph, honoring veterans and their service on Decorate Day.

This guard will be made up of four volunteer citizens alongside two Canadian Armed Forces military sentries. Between noon and 6 p.m., the Civil Guard will change every 15 minutes, allowing a total of 96 members of the public to participate.

The Royal United Services Institute of Regina (RUSI) is also set to unveil two more pedestals from its ongoing history project that day, and two Hawk jets from 15 Wing Moose Jaw will perform a flyover before the guard begins its parade.

Brad Hrycyna, a retired army major and president of RUSI, said this was the first year the organization had planned such an event, but the hope is to make it an annual ceremony.

Serving at Remembrance Day events is a special honor within the military, he said, and it’s incredibly unusual to have ordinary civilians in a ceremony with serving military members.

“We hope the civilians doing this also feel very special about it,” Hrycyna said. “We don’t know of any other place that does this.”

The RUSI is always looking for volunteer sentinels, as well as staff volunteers to help run the event. Hrycyna said about 70 people have already signed up across the province.

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Adults and youth are welcome to apply, the RUSI website says, and volunteers can wear whatever suits the occasion and weather. Arrangements can be made for volunteers unable to stand.

Most of those who have expressed an interest in participating in the ceremony want to recognize past, present and future military service.

“It’s pretty impressive,” Hrycyna said. “It’s out of respect for veterans, but for some it’s for family members, out of respect for those who served.”

Decoration Day was the first Remembrance Day in Canada when it was conceived in 1890. The June 5 celebrations were moved to November 11 in 1931 and it became Remembrance Day. Many veterans’ legions, including those in Regina and Moose Jaw, still mark Decoration Day by holding ceremonies and visiting veterans’ graves to place Canadian flags.

These services are often out of public view, Hrycyna said, which is part of what makes this event different.

“What we wanted to do is make sure the commemoration is not just about one day event a year,” Hrycyna said. “Our big concern is that currently there are very few World War II and Korean War veterans, and they are no longer able to tell their stories.

“And so we have to step up and make sure what they’ve achieved, what they’ve sacrificed, hasn’t and won’t be forgotten.”

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