Updated Fri. Nov. 11 2005 11:29 PM ET

War vets remembered in solemn ceremonies
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Canadians honour war dead in solemn ceremonies

CTV.ca News Staff

The "Last Post" echoed across the National War Memorial in Ottawa Friday during Remembrance Day ceremonies -- the first without a First World War veteran.

On the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians honoured the moment in 1918 when the guns in Europe were silenced -- marking the end of the First World War.

Thousands of veterans -- some in wheelchairs -- their family members and other civilians gathered at the National War Memorial to commemorate the day.

However, the ceremonies were without a vet from the First World War.

The last Ottawa veteran from the conflict, Paul Metivier, died earlier this year at the age of 104.

There are only five Canadian vets of the Great War still alive. Their average age is 103.

Prime Minister Paul Martin and Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean were among the dignitaries on hand for the ceremony, which included a moment of silence and a wreath-laying ceremony, but no fly-by.

Silver Cross Mother Claire Leger could not hold back the tears as she stepped forward to lay a wreath in honour of her son, Sgt. Marc Leger.

He was one of four soldiers killed in Afghanistan in April 2004 by U.S. "friendly fire."

'Book of Remembrance'

Sgt. Leger's name is among nearly 1,300 others listed in a "Seventh Book of Remembrance" that was dedicated in a ceremony earlier in the day.

It includes all the Canadian Forces members who died since Oct. 1, 1947.

"This book is unique in that it will never close. It will be used to commemorate those who have given their lives for Canada, for generations to come," Jean said in her address Friday morning.

Another person listed in the book of Remembrance is Capt. Miles Selby, a Snowbird pilot killed last December. His wife, Julie, and his parents also inspected the book.

"And we recognize that there is no more noble a sacrifice than theirs and they will be missed and will be remembered, and we will be forever grateful," the prime minister said Friday during the dedication ceremony.

The seventh book is being placed in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower, where it will be available for public viewing along with the other books.

The first six books cover:

  • The First World War
  • The Second World War
  • The Korean War
  • The South African War (1899-1902)/Nile Expedition(1884-85)
  • Newfoundlanders killed in service between 1914 and 1949 -- the date of the province's entry into Confederation
  • Merchant mariners who died in the First and Second World Wars

The ceremony in Ottawa was not without controversy.

Several veterans turned their backs on the Governor General as her car drove up to the National War Memorial.

The protesters said they believe Jean and her husband are, or were, Quebec separatist sympathizers who worked to break up a country the veterans fought to defend.

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