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Close to Home: Remembering Americans who served with Canadians in World War I

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Honoring World War I Veterans

The Royal Canadian Legion, U.S. Zone, Branch No. 25, will observed the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Liberty Cemetery in Petaluma.

This year, as every year since 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, bugles will resonate across the United States and Canada to remember those who lost their lives defending our liberties. In ceremonies across our two countries, wreaths will be laid at war memorials, and veterans and soldiers will parade to honor the fallen.

This year’s Veterans Day, or Remembrance Day as it is called in Canada, will be different, however, as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. More than 116,000 Americans and 60,000 Canadians lie in Flanders’ Fields and elsewhere, having fought and made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries.

It’s well known that Canadians fought and died with Americans in two world wars and Korea. We joined the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan after 9/11. We are both founding members of NATO. And, this year, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. As this shows, over the past two centuries, Canada and the United States have built the strongest partnership between any two countries.

What is less well known is how deep and personal these connections are.

More than 40,000 Americans enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Canada’s World War I army. They served throughout the Canadian armed forces in such large numbers that they formed an “American Legion,” staffing the 97th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Americans also served in other CEF battalions, fighting in the trenches, flying Canadian planes, tending Canadian wounded and sailing on Canadian Navy and merchant marine ships.

Those Americans fought with distinction, and an estimated 2,700 of them never made it home.

This week, as we mark the centenary of the end of World War I, we will remember them. The Royal Canadian Legion, U.S. Zone, Branch No. 25, will observe this anniversary at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Liberty Cemetery in Petaluma. All are invited.

Rana Sarkar is consul general of Canada in San Francisco.

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

Honoring World War I Veterans

The Royal Canadian Legion, U.S. Zone, Branch No. 25, will observed the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Liberty Cemetery in Petaluma.

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