"FROM LITTLE ACORNS"
... You know the rest of it...
Most of us are allergic to clichés anyway.
Yet true to the old adage, from a little thing a very impressive fraternal and neighborly ceremony has grown, which has invaluable effect for good international relations on both sides of one section of the vast line which politically and geographically separates Saskatchewan from North Dakota to the south of us.
The little acorn, in this case, appears to have been a set of bagpipes. (Let no perfervid Scot assail in dudgeon this association of bagpipes and acorns, or this reference to the pipes as a "little thing".)
It all started twenty years ago. Let Comrade J. D. Burton, now of Winnipeg, but formerly of the Carievale Branch of Saskatchewan Command, B.E.S.L., tell the story of its origin, he having been one of the originators. J.D., by the way, is own brother to Oliver, who, as general manager of the "Rum Jar" for a goodly number of years, has kept the old mag going through many trails and tribulations.
"In 1936, being posted to the Customs at Elmore, the most easterly of the ports of entry to Saskatchewan, I soon established close relations with the American Immigration Officer at Sherwood, N.D., George Knustson. The following summer, when the Carnduff Branch of the Legion was about to hold their annual Decoration Day services, knowing George was keenly interested in American Legion work, I invited him to come with me to the Carnduff service. I can still see the look on his face, when he realized that the only music for the parade was provided by an old set of bagpipes belonging to a comrade named MacIntosh, from Storthoaks."
"Is that all the music you have to march to?' he asked, apparently thinking how much better they do these things in his own country."
"Knowing that with bagpipes, distance lends enchantment, I drew him in alongside me at the rear of the parade. Off we marched, the pipes a skirling as only bagpipes can, the parade swinging along as parades can swing only to the bagpipes. I saw a change come over him as we marched, and, when it was over, he could not conceal that the experience had deeply impressed him."
"You know what I'm going to do?' he asked.
" No," I said, for I didn't know what was on his mind.
"Well, I'm going to get the Sherwood Post of our Legion to invite that man to our next Memorial Day."
"He paused, ruminating. "No, I'll go further. I'll get them to invite all the Canadian veterans in this area, who are close to Sherwood, to join with us"
George was as good as his word, and so May 30, 1938, saw the first of the long series of Memorial Day services at the International Border, attended jointly by Members of the Canadian Legion and the American Legion Post at Sherwood.
That was the acorn. Now for the oak which sprang from it.
Comrade Russell Emmerson, Zone Commander, of Alameda, tells the story
of the most recent Memorial Day at Sherwood, N.D., May 30, 1957:
"On Thursday morning, May 30th, starting about 9 o'clock, the Canadian Customs at Elmore, port of entry, 12 miles south of Carievale, Saskatchewan, saw the beginning of a great influx of Canadians. The occasion was the annual Memorial Day at Sherwood, North Dakota, which has turned out to be, not only a day of remembrance, but an international day as well. This year marked the twentieth anniversary of the day which means so much to countless thousands of Americans, and also their neighbors to the North.
"Under partially cloudy skies the scene that unfolded before the eyes was one of color and pageantry, and yet one could sense deep down the respect and honor that was being paid.
"The Mohall, ND school band was there in bright yellow uniforms trimmed with black, presenting a fine spectacle. The music they provided was just as easy to listen to as they were to look at.
"For this momentous occasion, the brass band from Camp Shilo, Manitoba, was also there, and also an Apprentice Battery, Royal School of Artillery. This special attraction not only added to the day, but it is believed to be the first time in history that Canadian Troops crossed the boundary carrying their weapons.
"The boundary ceremonies got under way at ten o'clock with the troops and Canadian Legionnaires forming up on the American side. The band led the parade down the road toward the Canadian boundary until they dropped out to the side and the troops and Legionnaires continued on. Once over the imaginary line, the troops halted., facing inwardly, presented arms and the Legionnaires marched through, made a left wheel and marched back through again. Then one could see the American Legionnaires marching toward us, headed by the color party. Just in front of us they halted, and the Mayor of Sherwood, Russ Steeves, welcomed the Canadians.
"The American Legionnaires marched through our lines to the back, the color party coming back up to take their places with ours at the front. The band then played our National Anthem and the American one as well. The Canadian parade was in charge of comrade Sid Mann, of Stortoaks, who has not missed one parade in 20 years. The American parade was in charge of Comrade Don Hanson, who was wearing, besides his other medals, the Purple Heart."
"To make it an even more unforgettable day, once the parade started, one could see scores of cameras, large and small, not forgetting T-V cameras, thus enabling those unable to attend the ceremonies to have an opportunity of enjoying the Memorial Progamme in the peace and quiet of their own homes.
"The parade marched back to the American side, headed by the Mohall, N.D., school band, and the Army band from Camp Shilo,. The opening ceremonies were drawing to a close, but a very high note had been struck in reminding the people of the great importance that Memorial Day should have for us all.
"The second part of the progammes took place in the Sherwood Legion Memorial Hall. The Legionnaires, after they had been mixed up with their American Comrades, marched into the hall, and then the color party, one American and one Canadian, advanced the colors. On the platform were seated Chairman Comrade Don Hanson, Rev. Byron Edwards, Major Mickie, in charge of Canadian Troops, Rev. S. Simundson, guest speaker, Comrade Sid Mann and Comrade Russell Emmerson. After the Invocation by Rev. Mr. Edwards and the welcome by Comrade Hanson, replied to by Comrade Sid Mann, the guest speaker, Rev. S. Simundson, gave a very thought-provoking addess, based on the fact that Canada and the United States living side by side with a boundary line of nearly 3,000 miles, can live so peacefully together. Nowhere else in the world can you find such a long distance with not a fence, not a gun, not a fortress, not a guard---just two peaceful nations, living side by side, enjoying the honors and traditions which were, for the most part, fostered in our mother country, Great Britain. But, in spite of all this, he reminded us that we should ever strive to be a God-fearing race, and he ended his remarks with those immortal words of Abraham Lincoln--"Government of the people..shall not perish from this earth."
"After the Benediction and Taps, the parade reassembled outside, and, for the benefit of the T-V cameras, marched twice up and down the street. The parade them marched to the trucks and buses to proceed to the cemetery to complete the third and last chapter of a day dedicated to the honor of those who laid down their lives that we might live.
"On arriving at the cemetery, which is situated some two miles out in the peaceful countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy town; surrounded by green verges and green fields of grain, the parade was reformed and marched to the Cenotaph. The Army troops and Army band formed up a short distance away and marched toward the Cenotaph. On the command of Lieut. Larry Greeg, both band and troops broke into the slow march. They halted near the Cenotaph and four sentries fell out and took up their positions at the four corners of the large stone column. Wreaths were then laid: one by a Canadian, Comrade Jack Burton, and one by an American, Comrade Arnold Magnuson. The order was then given to salute the dead and the firing squad, under the command of Comrade Leonard Smith, fired three rounds.'Last Post' and"Reveille" were then sounded, after which Rev. Mr. Edwards pronounce the Benediction..
"The troops and comrades then dispersed back to the Memorial Hall for a get-together and then to a wonderful luncheon provided by the Auxiliary of the American Legion, at the High School.
"At three o'clock in the afternoon, a large crowd gathered at the ball park to witness a wonderful display of field drill put on by the Apprentice Battery of the Royal School of Artillery. On the saluting base were Comrade Don Hanson, Comrade H. Loy, District Commander of the American Legion, Minot, N.D. and Major Mickie, Camp shilo.
"Following the display, a ball game was played between Carnduff, Sask, and Sherwood, N.D. which was won by the latter. This concluded Memorial Day at Sherwood, the memories of which will long remain with those who were fortunate to be present."
This is the story as it was printed in the "RUM JAR" 1957
The 60th Annual International Memorial Day Services were held in Sherwood on Monday May 26, 1997.
Orlin Hanson, Post Adjutant of Bothun-Peterson Post 213, Sherwood, ND