Posted in Canada remembers

Remembering Remembrance Day

The cold was inevitable even if we sheltered on the protected side of the street. The veterans marched down towards the Cenotaph with arms swinging. The Ladies Auxiliary followed behind which meant that my siblings and I were on our own. But we never chose this time to misbehave (that I can recall). The voices droned on but The Last Post always got my attention. The wreaths laid around the four corner stones engraved with names of places that meant nothing to me then; Vimy, Somme, Passchendal, Ypres.

Many of the names on the Cenotaph we knew though. Family names from the area. All their contemporaries, like my dad, are gone now. I am quite certain that the last Second world War veteran in my tiny Saskatchewan town has died. Their stories, for the most part, lost in their reluctance to talk about those hard years. The Legion Hall that they built now abandoned and empty. The service, moved inside during the late 70’s as the veterans aged, is now held inside the school. While this involves the next generations it also means the ceremony happens on a regular day and not on November 11th itself.

Ogema Cenotaph

Meanwhile, during our time in Saskatoon, the marking of this important day was also moved inside. There is much pomp and ceremony and the huge hockey arena is full. The event takes 3+ hours; not even imaginable outdoors in a Saskatchewan November. We have attended this event in the past but once we moved to the country I wanted to find a more low key event.

Alas the small town where we get our mail does not have one. They have a Cenotaph and I put poppies on it one year. A few years ago I found out that the Legion in the next town had one and so we attended. It felt odd to be the only people in the entire place that were strangers. During Ron’s time at the University of Saskatchewan we were present at the Memorial Gates. Sad to note that the landscaping around that area has been entirely forgotten this year.

I feel like sometimes we pay lip service to Remembrance Day here in Canada. The final insult, to me, is that retailers go straight from Halloween to Christmas without, literally a pause, of November 11th.

Long time readers of the blog will know that each year I try to do up a series of stories about veterans or places affected by war. I have no current plans for that this year (as I have something else in the works) but the stories can all be found here at acts-of-remembrance. I encourage each of you to read and think about what our parents and grandparents faced. I will also take time to think about those who now are facing war in their own countries and how “we” the developed nations seem to conveniently forget about them. The refugee camps, the scarred nations and the food and health crisis faced in so many of these areas seems to escape our consciousness. Which, perhaps, might lead me to see if I can find a guest blogger who can articulate what it is like to see these areas first hand.

#LestWeForget

Bernie

Now including a link to how a currently serving soldier remembered last year in the middle of the pandemic. https://greenandwhite.usask.ca/stories/november-2020/always-ready,-always-prepared.php

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I have had a love of the written word for my entire life. It's no surprise that eventually I found a platform where I could write. It's random; sometimes funny, occasionally sad, maybe even at times from anger and I lean towards creative photography and hands on crafts. I have a few blogs that high light these interests.

8 thoughts on “Remembering Remembrance Day

  1. Like you, I dislike the marching straight into Christmas after Halloween. Christmas “season” is too long to begin with (IMHO), and to make it overshadow Remembrance Day irritates me. When my father-in-law was still alive, my husband and I helped honour him and other vets on that day and attended ceremonies and later a dinner at the Legion with him. After he died, I made it my local Cenotaph for the ceremony whenever I was not working on that day. (At work, we always paused the instruments at 11am and listened to a short service on the radio.) Now I am in a new locale and the pandemic last year meant that no ceremony was held where I live (that I was aware of, anyways) but I was able to watch one taking place in Victoria. Perhaps there will be one that I can attend in person this year…
    Deb

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    1. Deb thanks for your response. I am glad I am not alone in my dislike of the how retailers have taken over. You’ve obviously got a long standing history of marking the date and I am sure you will find a new local way. I have pretty much decided to make a small local marking at the University Memorial Gates.

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      1. You two are not alone. The immediate jump from Hallowe’en to Christmas makes me absolutely crazy. I just searched and could not find a Rememberance Day Ceremony for this in Nanaimo or Parksville. I will keep looking in case I missed it.

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      2. I saw a Santa sled lite up on a city lawn today – what??? It’s Nov 2nd and there is a climate crisis around us and they are going to waste that much electricity!!!! I am tempted to write a nice note and leave it in the mail box.
        On the plus side I did find that the University is having an outside event at the Memorial Gates. I hope you find something to attend. Check Qualicum Beach as I know they have a Legion there. Thanks for jumping on my band wagon Deb.

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  2. We seem to forget far too soon. The sacrifices of our armed forces should not be forgotten so easily, but with all the hubbub about Covid and the ongoing First Nations injustices, Remembrance Day gets missed between the commercialism of Hallowe’en and the commercialism of Christmas. That is a shame. We always take time to make the time to watch the ceremonies from Ottawa. Thanks for raising the issue Bernie. Allan

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    1. It’s crazy that as mankind we can forget when wars are still raging on. It’s just that they don’t actively include our country. We often watch the ceremonies in Ottawa as well — the big local one just isn’t our style and certainly not now! I will, every year that I blog, bring this issue up again. I owe it to my father, father in law and all those other men and women to remember that November isn’t about Christmas. As Deb pointed out Christmas season lasts way too long. Take care. Bernie

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  3. A heartfelt post, Bernie. Here in Fredericton Remembrance Day is strongly observed. Our proximity to Base Gagetown, Canada’s largest base and training centre, may keep the importance and ongoing sacrifices of our military on people’s minds more than other places. Nov 11 is a statutory holiday in NB and the ceremonies are always held on that day.

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    1. Perhaps it is nearness of presence. Look at the Menin Gate – they remember every night about the thousands that gave their lives to protect that city and the people. Nov 11th is a stat holiday here and yet so much does not shut down. I think the small town I grew up in decided it was better to combine the event with a school day to ensure that the students were learning and marking the occasion but it is too bad it wasn’t actually at the eleventh hour of Nov 11th. Thanks for reading and commenting and letting me know how your area marks the occasion. It is good to know. Bernie

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