Spectators come from far and wide, compelled to pay respect to friends, family and the Unknown Soldier

Sean Bohrson (right) and Jeremy Jones (left) are part of the Commandos Motorcycle Club, a club made up of veterans. They travelled to the province from Calgary and Ottawa, to show support to the club's Newfoundland chapter at the ceremony of the unknown soldier. (Abby Cole/CBC - image credit)
Sean Bohrson (right) and Jeremy Jones (left) are part of the Commandos Motorcycle Club, a club made up of veterans. They travelled to the province from Calgary and Ottawa, to show support to the club's Newfoundland chapter at the ceremony of the unknown soldier. (Abby Cole/CBC - image credit)
Sean Bohrson (right) and Jeremy Jones (left) are part of the Commandos Motorcycle Club, a club made up of veterans. They travelled to the province from Calgary and Ottawa, to show support to the club's Newfoundland chapter at the ceremony of the unknown soldier.
Sean Bohrson (right) and Jeremy Jones (left) are part of the Commandos Motorcycle Club, a club made up of veterans. They travelled to the province from Calgary and Ottawa, to show support to the club's Newfoundland chapter at the ceremony of the unknown soldier.

Sean Bohrson, right, and Jeremy Jones of the Commandos Motorcycle Club came to St. John's from Calgary and Ottawa to support the club's Newfoundland chapter at the ceremony of the Unknown Soldier. (Abby Cole/CBC)

Thousands of people from all over Newfoundland and Labrador, from across Canada and from around the world braved the rain that fell on St. John's on Monday to attend a solemn ceremony at the National War Memorial — drawn by a connection to the Unknown Soldier.

Sean Bohrson of Calgary and Jeremy Jones of Ottawa — which saw the entombment of an Unknown Soldier repatriated from northern France — attended the ceremony with fellow members of the Commandos Motorcycle Club from all over Canada.

Bohrson said the club — founded in 2015 and made up mostly of veterans — travelled to Newfoundland to support to the club's Newfoundland chapter and to pay their respects to the unknown soldier.

Bohrson, who served for six years with the Third Royal Canadian Regiment and toured in Bosnia., describes the club as a "brotherhood." He said it fosters the same sense of camaraderie they had when they served in the military, and he appreciated the thousands of spectators on hand for the service.

"It's nice to see such a crowd pull for something like this, because even for us … a lot of us have friends and everything, and they're unknown to everybody else," he said. "I got friends that didn't make it, and nobody thinks about them, right? They're still just an unknown soldier."

Jones spent four years in the reserves and was deployed to Bosnia in 1996. He then transferred to the regular force and toured in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, finishing his career in the special operation community, retiring in 2020.

Jones said the motorcycle club helps veterans navigate Veterans Affairs, which is why showing support at Monday's ceremony was so important.

"To be here at a big event, as well as being visible, helps us reach into the veteran community and start giving people help that they need," he said.

The ceremony involved a committal of the remains of the unknown soldier followed by a memorial service.

Harvey Short at Harbour Side Park in St. John's at 7 A.M., in order to claim his spot and have the best view of the arrival of the Unknown Soldier.
Harvey Short at Harbour Side Park in St. John's at 7 A.M., in order to claim his spot and have the best view of the arrival of the Unknown Soldier.

Harvey Short arrived at Harbourside Park in St. John's at 7 a.m. to claim his spot and have the best view of the arrival of the Unknown Soldier. (Abby Cole/CBC)

Harvey Short of Paradise stayed at a nearby hotel and arrived at Harbourside Park across from the war memorial at 7 a.m.

He said he travelled to Beaumont-Hamel and Juno Beach, and touched the headstones of every Newfoundlander who died in the First World War.

"The Armed Forces have a certain place in my heart, that they make us free, and that's why I'm here today," said Short.

Stephen Ganvill from the United Kingdom says he has more family in Newfoundland then at home. His grandfather served in the Royal Navy during WW1.
Stephen Ganvill from the United Kingdom says he has more family in Newfoundland then at home. His grandfather served in the Royal Navy during WW1.

Stephen Ganvill of the United Kingdom says he has more family in Newfoundland than at home. His grandfather served in the Royal Navy during the First World War. (Abby Cole/CBC)

Stephen Ganvill of the United Kingdom was in attendance — by chance, while visiting Newfoundland for a cousin's birthday.

His grandfather was a Newfoundlander and served in the Royal Navy during the First World War.

"I've got more family in Newfoundland than I've got in the U.K.," he said.

Ganvill's grandfather met his grandmother in the United Kingdon and stayed there after the war. He died in 1925.

"I know where he's buried, but this is important," he said.

"I think it's important for the general identity of Newfoundlanders.… It's in their psyche, and this is perhaps a bit of closure."

Karen White travelled from Goose Bay to commemorate her grandfather Frederick Freda who fought in WW1.
Karen White travelled from Goose Bay to commemorate her grandfather Frederick Freda who fought in WW1.

Karen White travelled from Goose Bay in memory of her grandfather, who fought in the First World War. (Abby Cole/CBC)

'A long road'

Karen White of Goose Bay came in memory of her grandfather, who fought in the First World War, but made it back.

"It's a long road, but I'm really glad we came down, she said. Her grandfather, who was from Hopedale, "went a long way to war, but he came home," said White.

Her grandfather died in 1974, she said, and Monday's ceremony is "remembrance for all of us."

Patricia Hearn (left) walked in the ceremony's parade representing nurses. Her son, Chris Hearn (right) attended to show his support.
Patricia Hearn (left) walked in the ceremony's parade representing nurses. Her son, Chris Hearn (right) attended to show his support.

Patricia Hearn, left, walked in the ceremony's parade to represent nurses. Her son, Chris Hearn, attended to show his support. (Abby Cole/CBC)

Chris Hearn of Bay Bulls attended in support of his mother, Patricia Hearn, who worked at a care home for veterans for 25 years and participated in the parade to represent the nurses who served in the war.

"I think it's wonderful," he said. "This young man who represents all of us, everybody here in this province, everybody in Newfoundland, was finally brought back home."

Marion Alcock Foley (left) and Peter Foley (right) attended the memorial day ceremony. Marion Alcock Foley says the ceremony served as a reminder of our freedoms.
Marion Alcock Foley (left) and Peter Foley (right) attended the memorial day ceremony. Marion Alcock Foley says the ceremony served as a reminder of our freedoms.

Marian Alcock Foley, left, attending the Memorial Day service with husband Peter Foley, says the ceremony served as a reminder of Canadians' freedom. (Abby Cole/CBC)

Marion Alcock-Foley of St. John's, originally from Harbour Grace, said the ceremony served as a "reminder that the freedoms that we have today are due in part to the guts and the glory and the courage of these young men."

"This young man and the guys who came after him, and young ladies too, hopefully the job they've done is not lost on those who are coming after us," said Alcock Foley.

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