Soldiers and dignitaries gathered outside the Brandon Armoury yesterday for the Memorial Baton Relay, which marks a century of regimental service to Canada for the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
The relay started in Edmonton on Aug. 10, moving its way through Alberta and Saskatchewan before arriving here.
It then goes to Winnipeg before heading to Ontario and Quebec, eventually ending in Ottawa in September.
While the baton is only approximately four months old, what it holds is one of the most important pieces of the regiment’s history.
"The baton looks pretty, but it’s not particularily significant," said Bob Barker, commanding officer of the relay from start to finish.
"The whole reason it’s a sacred object to us is that within the head of it is the roll of honour, which is 1,866 names of Patricias that have fallen in service over the last century. That’s what makes the baton so sacred and why it is treated with the respect that it is."
Barker served in Afghanistan in 2008.
He said throughout the journey, it has been inspiring to see how other soldiers and veterans respond to the baton.
In Wainwright, Alta., a Second World War veteran carried the baton the final 200 metres to the ceremony, he said.
"When he got his hand on it, his shoulders squared up, his head was back and his stride got a little longer," Barker said.
"To see that pride that former members still have of their service really brings home why we are doing this and what that regimental connection means."
Sgt. Tom Cole has served in the regiment for 27 per cent of its storied history, serving in Cypress, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
Cole got a chance to run with the baton accompanied by his young daughter.
"I feel privileged and honoured just to be a small part of it," he said.
The team of approximately 50 soldiers will spend two days in the area and has also set up a centennial display at CFB Shilo.
"With Shilo being our home base, being able to stop here and show our friends and families the centennial display and have them participate in some of the PPCLI centennial activities is a real honour," Barker said.
» Twitter: @CharlesTweed