PR Legion Branch remembers our heroes

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

COVID-19 did not stop the Peace River Royal Canadian Legion branch and the public from remembering its heroes Nov. 11.

A service was held at the Peace River Legion Hall with members inside and citizens in vehicles outside.

Attending were branch manager Sid Bradwell, branch vice-president Art Millard, chairman Neil Whitmey, poppy chairman Robert McIlroy, while branch president, Murray Nelson, extended his regrets for not being in attendance due to health concerns. Special guest was Kevin Holt, District 1 Commander.

The Legion group assembled at the flagpole in front of the Legion Hall at 10:55 a.m.

Bradwell opened the ceremony by reciting the opening ceremony.

“Before we proceed to the consideration of the business which has brought us together, let us pause to think reverently of those of our comrades who by sea, by land and in the air, laid down their lives for their sovereign and country. Their sacrifice will ever inspire us to labour on, to the end that those who survive and need our aid may be assured of assistance, and that the country in which we live, and for which they died, may ever be worthy of the sacrifice they made. During the Silence, we will remember our fallen comrades and those who have passed on since we last gathered together,” said Bradwell.

Two Minutes of Silence was followed by the Act of Remembrance.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.”

The Poppy poem was recited by Whitmey.

The Poppy

I am not a badge of honour,
I am not a racist smear,
I am not a fashion statement,
To be worn but once a year.
I am not glorification,
Of conflict or of war
I am not a paper ornament
A token, I am more.

I am a loving memory,
Of a father or a son,
A permanent reminder,
Of each and every one.

I’m paper or enamel,
I’m old or shining new.
I’m a way of saying thank you,
To every one of you.

I am a simple poppy
A reminder to you all.
That courage, faith and honour
Will stand where heroes fall.

Holt addressed the ceremony with acknowledgements on behalf of the Alberta- Northwest Territory Command and provided a short story of the significance of Remembrance.

“Hello, my name is Kevin Holt, District 1 and District 7 Commander Alberta-NWT Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.

“On behalf of our Provincial Command President Comrade John Mahon, council and staff members, I bring you greetings and thoughts of Remembrance on this special day.

“I would like to thank all the Veterans and their families for the freedoms we enjoy.

“Our lives are busy with work, volunteering, activities, friends and family, but each year we are given the chance to stop and reflect on what it means to be free and the cost of that freedom. How lucky we are to be given the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices made on our behalf.

“Imagine what life would be like if we feared persecution because of the work we do, the place we live, or because of our beliefs. Our freedom is so ingrained in who we are, it is expected.

“The following is a short story that reflects on the significance of Remembrance Day.

“At a Remembrance Day ceremony, a dad and his six-year-old son filled two empty seats in a packed auditorium. As the audience sang O Canada, a Veteran next to the young boy stood at attention. The boy took notice of how the elderly Veteran stood and he too straightened his back and sang along. The Last Post was played and during the silence that followed tears of remembrance streamed down the Veteran’s face. The young boy noticing the Veteran’s tears slowly slid closer to him and held his hand. Together they stood in Remembrance.

“As everyone filed out at the end of the service, the boy remained in his seat next to the Veteran. The boy’s dad, now aware of his son’s actions sat as well. They intently listened to the Veteran as if the three of them were alone. Seeing them talk one would think they were family, but they had never met before that day.

“Those who have stood in harms way know and understand the cost to protect and preserve freedom. They believed in us, in our country and the rights of all people so much so, they are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice of their life, for ours. Many have come back with visible and invisible scars; others did not make it back. Their sacrifices have shaped our freedom and continue to protect it.

“Who are they? They, are faces that make up the fabric of Canada. They are our sons, our daughters, our mothers, our fathers, our grandmothers, and grandfathers. They come from all walks of life and are all ages. They are the men and women who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces. They are Veterans.

“Words are powerful tools. It is amazing to think that a small red flower immortalized in a poem would have such an important and profound impact on a nation. Wearing a Poppy is silent reminder that we appreciate the sacrifices of all our military personnel and their families past and present. It also binds us together as a nation. Do you not feel a kinship or connection to a stranger when you see the poppy on their lapel?

“Ceremonies like this one have been held for over 90 years. As guardians of Remembrance the Royal Canadian Legion will ensure that these ceremonies will continue in the future. Each year thousands of volunteers from the Legion, organize the annual Poppy Campaign. Loonies and toonies are gathered up and the monies are used to support our Veterans and their families.

“As you leave today and in the days to Nov. 11, 2020 come, think about what freedom means to you, and how different your life would be without it. Take the time to speak to a Veteran, thank them for their service; hold their hand, but don’t wait until the next Remembrance Day.

“They are our Veterans, and we will remember them.”

The ceremony was concluded by Bradwell with all Legion members present, saluting the flags and once again reciting the Act of Remembrance.

After closing, Holt thanked the public in attendance with appreciation of the significance of the COVID-19 pandemic and the public’s support of social distancing during the short ceremony on behalf Peace River Branch 62.

A flyover salute by a local pilot was received as the service concluded.

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