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‘Take two minutes of your time and remember’

Marking Remembrance Day will be different this year. As president Royal Canadian Legion’s Newfoundland and Labrador Command Nathan Lehr of Pasadena will attend a ceremony in St. John’s.
Nathan Lehr is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Pasadena’s Nathan Lehr is the president of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Newfoundland and Labrador Command


Nathan Lehr was just 17 and fresh out of high school when he joined the army in 1964. The Pasadena man laughs when says he was full of life then.

“I was just a young fellow … young, single, didn’t give a heck.”

Joining the military was somewhere to go for many young men coming out of high school. And the job took him many places. He did a tour in Cyprus in 1965, manning outposts between the Greek and Turkish separatists. Occasionally there would be a little firefight between the two factions.

For the young Newfoundlander it was an experience like no other.

“It was like a big holiday for us guys because we figured we were invincible. It was an adventure.”

When he returned from overseas Lehr became a member of the Ceremonial Guard on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, donning the traditional bearskin hat for a couple of years.

“And then I said, ‘I’ve had enough,’ and got out. Out for a year, I said, ‘the heck with this and I got back in.’”

He was then part of the air force and worked in logistics. It was a job that took him and his family to Germany twice — from 1971 to 1975 and from 1989 to 1992. Lehr ended his career with the Canadian Armed Forces in 1997.

“I felt that I was obligated to give back after all these years. And the way of doing that was to join the legion and be a part of the organization.”

More than 10 years ago he got involved with the Royal Canadian Legion by becoming a member of Branch 68 in Pasadena and he is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Command.

As ex-military, and the son of a Second World War veteran, Lehr felt it was important to get involved.

“I felt that I was obligated to give back after all these years. And the way of doing that was to join the legion and be a part of the organization.”

He enjoys the camaraderie of the organization.

“It’s like all your buddies are there and it’s still keeping with the military. All the veterans that are in there, we all basically walked down the same road.”

Today the organization is also open to associate members, often children and relatives of veterans, who Lehr said are very important to the legion.

For legion members there are two very significant days in a year — July 1st, Memorial Day, and Nov. 11, Remembrance Day.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way these days are marked.

The provincial command has recommended that branches follow all Public Health guidelines in holding ceremonies and Lehr said that means no cadets or bands, no military presence, no spectators and in some cases no veterans. It’s sad to see it this way, said Lehr, who is in St. John’s for a ceremony.

“It’s something that’s instilled in you and we know we’ve got to bite the bullet and wait for better times.”

But the situation makes it all the more important to remember.

“You might as well say it’s everybody’s duty. Let’s not forget, let’s not forget. Everybody should have it in mind. Even if you can’t make a parade take two minutes of time on Nov. 11 and remember the reason you’re doing what you’re doing. Those ladies and men made a supreme sacrifice and remember why we have Remembrance Day.

“Take two minutes of your time and remember.”

Lehr recently participated in a question and answer session with Saltwire Network:

Q. What is your full name?

Nathan Samuel Lehr

Q. Where and when were you born?

Gambo, NL, February 1947

Q. Where do you live today?

Pasadena, NL.

Q. What’s your favourite place in the world?

My favourite place in the world is right here in Newfoundland, love it. Can’t beat it.

Q. What’s been your favourite year and why?

Not 2020! 1969, that’s when I married my beautiful girl from Corner Brook, my wife Donna. Can’t live without her.

Q. Can you describe an experience that changed your life?

When I joined the military when I was 17 years old. They take you by the scruff of the neck and they mold a little boy into a man. It was strict in those days.

Q. What do you like to do to relax.

Well, my wife says I do it too much. Just sit back, listen to news and do a little bit of yard work every now and then.

Q. What do you treasure the most?

My family. My wife and our two girls, Lisa Lehr, a teacher in St. John’s, and Lana Donaldson-Lehr, a teacher in Saskatoon.

Q. What life lesson did you learn from one of your parents?

From my father, always tell the truth, never lie, be honest and you’ll get through it.

Diane Crocker reports on west coast news.


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