A large crowd gathers at Stratford Cenotaph for Remembrance Day service
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the temperature in Stratford was -4 C, but felt more like -10 C.
But that biting cold didn’t stop hundreds of local residents from gathering around the city’s cenotaph to pay their respects to the local fallen soldiers and veterans.
“It is the least we can do,” said Richard Robertson. “This is nothing compared to what they had to through to protect our country and our freedom.”
Saturday’s ceremonies began with a Remembrance Day parade that arrived at the Erie Street monument at around 10:30 a.m.
By that time, the cenotaph was already filled with people of all ages and backgrounds who proudly wore a poppy on their chests.
One of those people was David Van Schaik, whose parents emigrated to Canada from Holland and were liberated by Canadian forces during the Second World War. “I came here today to honour the Canadians that freed my parents,” he said. With him was Riad Alta ’eh, who emigrated to Canada about a year and a half ago from Syria. Van Schaik said this year’s event was Alta’ eh’s first time attending a Remembrance Day ceremony. “He’s very interested in being part of Canadian society, and we have invited him to join us for all types of Canadian activities and today, of course, is one of them,” he said. “And it is a wonderful way for him to witness and learn what men and women did for this country.” Avondale United Church minister Keith Reynolds brought that message home during his speech, in which he invited attendees to continue to share the stories of those who have sacrificed their lives to make of the world a better place so that more people can remember.
He also asked people to pay attention to what silence could tell us and to keep Canadian’s veterans memories alive.
“These stories are part of what we remember in this season and, particularly, on this day,” he said. “When we remember, we affirm humanity’s faith in humanity, and memory helps cast meaning upon our endeavours.”
It was a message Barb Young agreed with.
She said this day was an opportunity for she and her eight siblings to honour the memory of her father, Len Young, who passed away eight years ago and who fought during the Second World War.
“This has always been a very important part of our family,” she said, adding that it amazed her to see how many people attended the event, despite the freezing temperatures.
Her father, she added, would have loved to see it.
“He would’ve been very happy and very proud,” she said. email@example.com Twitter.com/JuhaJonathan
The colour guard stands at attention in front of the cenotaph during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Stratford on Saturday.
A wreath is laid at the cenotaph during the Remembrance Day ceremony in Stratford on Saturday.
Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson lays a wreath during Saturday's Remembrance Day ceremony.