The 150-hour vigil at the Chatham cenotaph attracted the national president of the IODE to the downtown area Tuesday to participate in the ongoing ceremony with members from the four local chapters of the organization.
Bonnie Rees drove from Waterloo Region to be part of the C-K Keeping 150 vigil, which is being held over the 150 hours leading up to Remembrance Day.
“I thought it was a unique idea that I haven’t heard before,” said the national president. “It sounded like a reasonable thing to do, so I offered myself as one of the people who would help stand guard and here we are.”
Garna Argenti, the past president of the Kent Regiment IODE, reached out to chapters across Canada to take part, which is how Rees found out it was happening.
The vigil was organized by Rev. Mark Sceviour from Christ Church. Several different organizations, families and individuals have offered their time to watch the cenotaph over this period.
The IODE put down its roots in the Boer War in 1900 when a Montreal woman expressed her concern about Canadian soldiers fighting oversees. She brought women together to “promote patriotism, loyalty and service to others,” according to the organization’s website.
Rees said given these origins, the cenotaph watch seemed like a good fit for the IODE.
“It’s wonderful that the church has organized this CK150 vigil and I think the local ladies have really embraced the concept and are very happy to do this,” she said.
“I know probably a number of them had husbands who were veterans of the Second World War and (they) regularly attend Remembrance Day services at the cenotaph.”
Argenti said the vigil also fits with her chapter, in particular because it is behind the Gathering Our Heroes project, a website which aims to compile all of the Chatham-Kent veterans from the First and Second World Wars.
“The plaques that the ladies are holding are heroes that fell from this area, for whom IODE chapters were named, so we have a very strong connection right back from the beginning,” she said.
There were once 15 or 16 IODE chapters in the Chatham-Kent area, according to Argenti, but now there are four. All of them had representatives to stand guard at the vigil Tuesday.
Argenti said she appreciated the national president responded to her notice.
“We’re just amazed and thrilled that she would come and join us in this vigil,” she said. “She’s very supportive of the things that we do down here.”
According to Argenti, about 700 casualties from the First and Second World Wars were from Chatham-Kent.
The featured image is about: IODE national president Bonnie Rees is shown at the downtown Chatham cenotaph on Nov. 7. Rees visited as part of a 150-hour vigil at the cenotaph leading up to Remembrance Day organized by Christ Church. Representatives from the four local IODE chapters participated.