With COVID-19 cases still affecting communities across Canada and provincial health orders limiting gatherings, Remembrance Day ceremonies on Nov. 11 will look a little different this year.
Parades and typical crowds won’t be present on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean community members won’t be able to hold silence and commemorate those who have served in Canada’s armed forces.
On the West Shore, Royal Canadian Legion Branch #91 in Langford plans on holding a very small, private ceremony at the Veterans Memorial Park cenotaph. In Sooke, Royal Canadian Legion Branch #54 will be doing the same at the Legion cenotaph. These are both private ceremonies.
Langford Legion president Norm Scott says they will also commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands in the Second World War and Victory in Europe Day with candles, since they were unable to do so in May.
“I feel deeply saddened that we’re not able to allow our veterans to have a place at the cenotaph this year because that’s their point of relief,” Scott says. “In the way of remembering, all I can suggest is go virtual or on TV, stay at home and be safe. We don’t want to put you at risk.”
In Langford, the Remembrance Day service will be attended by the Legion’s colour party and executive. The area will be fenced to keep the ceremony private. The fencing will be removed after to allow the public to pay their respects. The service will be live streamed on the Goldstream News Gazette Facebook page, Scott says.
According to the British Columbia and Yukon Legion website, the Sooke Legion branch will also be commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. The service will be broadcasted live on the branch’s Facebook page. The Sooke News Mirror reports that the Sooke Legion is still looking for people to purchase wreaths to support veterans, seniors and youth groups in Sooke. Those interested in buying a wreath can contact the Legion manager at 250-642-5913 or email [email protected].
Scott says despite everything that’s going on in the world right now, it’s still important to remember the many soldiers who have fallen and those who are still around. He suggests everyone – veterans, families, community members – stand on their front porch at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 for two minutes to hold a moment of silence “and think, and look to the sky and remember.”
“If we didn’t have those veterans of yesterday, we wouldn’t have what we have today. We also have veterans that are current,” Scott says. “So we need to stand up. We need to support them.”
The annual poppy campaign also runs through Nov. 10 and Scott says the Langford Legion is still looking for volunteers to fill shifts. Those who are interested in volunteering can contact the Legion branch at 250-478-9812.
The Langford Legion is also accepting donations online at its website.
“All we ask is that when you do donate, remember,” Scott says. “And if you don’t have a poppy, you don’t have the funds, come get a poppy. It’s all about remembering.”