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Not a camera was rolling as the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month passed in this small town a half hour west of Ottawa -- unless, of course, we count the disposable a youngster dropped as he hurried past the church to catch the end of the parade.

They marched behind the fire truck, marched up Franklin Street, along Bridge Street and down Mill Street in fluctuating weather that seemed to weep for a moment and then shine for a moment -- much like the 60-odd veterans themselves.

John Crotty, who served in Korea, carried his father's medals in his pocket as he marched, his thoughts dancing from Asia in 1952 all the way back to Europe in 1917, when his father, Victor Albert Crotty, was wounded at Vimy Ridge.

Ken Robertson, fast going on 83, used a cane just in case, and never missed a step, his thoughts on this day with his great buddy, Lloyd Scott, whose name "L.G. Scott" had been read out over the loudspeaker moments ago by Mayor Brian Costello. Lloyd Scott, still but a boy, had been lost over Germany, his body not recovered for four years, and when Ken Robertson looked up at the once-again-gathering clouds, he remembered something "strange" about his friend that made him smile. "Lloyd was frightened of thunder, you know. Terrified -- and yet he went off and joined the air force."

Behind the marching men and women came a 1946 Jeep, driven, as it has each Remembrance Day for a decade, by Grade 8 teacher Shannon Gray. He follows the parade just in case someone needs a ride. This year, the weather warm if a bit wet, only one pair of old knees gave out.

"They want," says an admiring Mr. Gray, "to go on their own as far as they can." There is a great difference, but also no difference at all, between the solemn ceremony at the Ottawa War Memorial and the small Remembrance services countrywide.

Here, only a half hour from Ottawa, there are no dignitaries apart from the mayor and the clergy and director Graham Ingram of the Carleton Place Community Band. There is no Prime Minister, no Governor-General. The dress is not dark formal, but hockey jackets and golf umbrellas, parents standing with one hand on a stroller, the other around a large Tim Hortons.

There is no live coverage, no one to remark if you fail to show, and yet the entire town seems gathered here this day, Bridge Street so empty it is a wonder the lights bother changing.

"It's different," says Ken Robertson, who served as a field ambulance driver in Europe. "I used to go into Ottawa on a regular basis for the service, but now I stay here. The Ottawa ceremony is quite emotional, but it is here, too. These are people you knew.

"And I knew them all."

The sheer number for such a small town is astonishing. Carleton Place lost one woman and 51 men in the First World War, 46 men in the Second World War and one man in Korea. There is a plaque near the cenotaph that proudly boasts that this little town along the Mississippi River was the birthplace of "Capt. A. Roy Brown, D.S.C., 1893-1944. Victor in aerial combat over Baron Manfred von Richtofen, the First World War's leading fighter pilot and German national hero." Others have disputed this claim; no one in Carleton Place would dare.

"Did you know," says Bill Bigras, who went off to fight in Korea and stayed 22 years in the Forces, "that this town had the highest percentage of volunteers during the Second World War?"

Mr. Bigras is himself a smaller hero of the town, the Canadian soldier selected to hoist the brand-new Maple Leaf flag on Parliament Hill on Feb. 15, 1965.

"Just lucky, I guess," is the way he explains the honour.

And still lucky, he adds, to be able at 73 to march the streets of his little town each Nov. 11 and pay his respects to those who never got to march again.

"Every town has its own war dead," says Mr. Bigras. "And its own survivors. There's something to be said about being here and not having to go anywhere else this day.

"When you've known the people who died, it makes a difference."

The 60-odd veterans have come to the end of their small parade. Bridge Street is again moving with traffic.

They break off smartly, shoulders sagging just a bit, some groaning, two of them making a joke about how good a cold beer is going to taste back at the George Street Legion.

Ken Robertson gets rid of his cane. John Crotty checks his father's medals once more. And Bill Bigras flexes his legs.

"You'll ache tomorrow," he says.

"But what the hell."

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