KEVIN LAJOIE KLAJOIE@STANDARD-FREEHOLDER.COM
The S, D and G Highlanders defended Canada's freedom, and in return, they were granted the freedom of their hometown city.
The Glens made use of that freedom on Saturday in a well-executed display of regimental pride and strength in downtown Cornwall.
For the first time in nearly 16 years, the S, D and G Highlanders exercised their Freedom of the City -- a civic honour originating from the British military -- with a traditional march that spoke to the regiment's storied past and its promising future.
Shortly after 1 p. m., the Glens departed the Cornwall Armoury and marched to the old city limits of Second and Marlborough streets where Lt.-Col. Roy Clarke, the Commanding Officer of the regiment, requested permission from Deputy Cornwall Police Chief Danny Aikman to enter the city.
With Aikman's blessing, the unit then marched on to city hall where Clarke knocked on the door with the hilt of his sword and asked Mayor Bob Kilger to emerge and reaffirm the unit's right to the Freedom of the City.
With MP Guy Lauzon and MPP Jim Brownell by his side and a large crowd looking on, Kilger reaffirmed the honour and declared it will continue "so long as the St. Lawrence River flows past our city."
Kilger ended his speech with the Highlanders' traditional call of "Up the Glens!"
With that, the 90 or so Glens raised the regimental colours, fixed their bayonets and drew their swords and marched to Knox-St. Paul United Church for review before returning to the armoury. The regiment was accompanied on the march by a Bren Gun carrier which was used by the Glens in the Second World War to transport heavy weapons.
The Freedom of the City was first granted to the Highlanders in 1968, and it was last exercised on Oct. 2, 1993. The latest edition of the ceremony was intended to give citizens a chance to recognize the Glens who have served at home and abroad since 1993.
It also served as a homecoming celebration of sorts for the nine Glens who recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan -- Warrant Officer Gerald Colgan, Master Cpl. Kevin McHardy, Master Cpl. Jeffrey Clement, Cpl. Jenna Lafave, Cpl. Scott Galt, Cpl. Martin Sabourin, Cpl. Shawn Stoness, Cpl. Grant Wagar and Cpl. Shaun Van Koppen.
"It was good, something I haven't done before," said Sabourin in describing Saturday's ceremony
Lafave said for her, the ceremony was a tribute to anyone who has gone on tour in service of their country. She was happy with the turnout for the event.
"Support for troops is really big right now," she added.
That was evident on Saturday as a large group of family members, veterans and residents gathered at city hall to witness the proceedings. One of those in attendance was Glens member and Second World War veteran Charles Sayyeau.
The 84-year-old took part in the 1968 and 1993 Freedom of the City ceremonies, and Saturday's event brought back positive memories for him.
"It is very uplifting (to see)," Sayyeau said. "You feel proud. You say, 'I was a part of this'."
Clarke, the Commanding Officer, was also pleased with what he saw.
"My heart is still pounding (with pride)," he said after the ceremony.