Did peo­ple for­get to re­mem­ber?

Wel­land-Crow­land War Me­mo­rial ser­vice pales in com­par­i­son to those of years past

The Welland Tribune - - Front Page - JOE BARKOVICH

Does the last “Last Post” loom large for the early Re­mem­brance Day ser­vice in the Rose City?

I asked my­self that ques­tion walk­ing away from Sun­day’s golden-leaf-car­peted Chip­pawa Park.

I hope it doesn’t, but I har­bour con­cern over what may have to be.

Like the re­cent mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion in Wel­land (and else­where), the turnout on Sun­day past was dis­ap­point­ing. It is safe to as­sume pub­lic in­ter­est in many things pub­lic and for­merly held dear is on the wane, dis­tress­ingly so. It just could be that ap­a­thy is a cancer eat­ing away at this once-cher­ished part of the com­mon good.

Let me ex­plain my feel­ing of con­cern:

Put the flag bear­ers aside. Put the nat­tily-at­tired politi­cians aside. Put the men and women wear­ing navy blue le­gion blaz­ers aside. Put the piper and the bu­glers aside. What are you left with?

Maybe a few dozen mem­bers of the pub­lic who came out on that weather-blessed au­tumn af­ter-

noon to as­sem­ble at the iconic Wel­land-Crow­land War Me­mo­rial.

A few dozen.

Forty or 50, maybe?

Could the gath­er­ing even be called a crowd?

On this day of re­mem­brance, did peo­ple for­get to re­mem­ber?

For this on­looker, the live drama that un­folds year af­ter year makes for en­gross­ing the­atre.

Though a peren­nial ‘re­run,’ it’s some­thing that has to be seen re­gard­less.

Ac­tors shar­ing the open-air stage with the hand­some gran­ite me­mo­rial form­ing the back­drop are stars in a blood­less drama that holds its au­di­ence in si­lence.

It shouldn’t come as sur­pris­ing. The script, the same year af­ter year, is wor­thy of be­ing award-win­ning: rich in re­flec­tion, ap­pre­ci­a­tion and re­mem­brance.

But still lamented by some is the ab­sence of the full-fledged pa­rade that opened this Sun­day be­fore Re­mem­brance Day cer­e­mony.

Years ago, lo­cal vet­er­ans, branch mem­bers, cadets, fire­fight­ers, aux­il­iary po­lice and oth­ers in crisp uni­forms and buffed shoes marched with solem­nity from the shop­ping plaza park­ing lot on Fitch Street to the park. There the crowd, a bona fide crowd, awaited their ar­rival.

As marchers’ ages went up in years, as their num­bers were thinned by at­tri­tion and weak­ened legs that no longer could carry them (“the legs are al­ways first to go” it is of­ten heard said), the pa­rade route was short­ened and changed. It now starts within the park it­self.

This came up in rem­i­nis­cences with Bob Clark­son, a bu­gler for years with the Bellerophon band. He and three bugling cronies, cradling horns in the crooks of their arms, waited for their role in Sun­day’s ser­vice. It is one they hold sacro­sanct: a ren­di­tion of the mourn­ful “Last Post.”

The ser­vice is noth­ing new to them.

And they were par­tic­i­pants, many times in years gone by, in that pa­rade down Fitch Street to the park.

“It was a sight to be­hold, one that did the (le­gion) branch proud,” Clark­son re­flected.

It added spec­ta­cle to sub­stance, all agreed.

When in the pro­gram the four­some’s time on stage ar­rived, they more than rose to the oc­ca­sion.

From their ap­pointed place near the ceno­taph, they played the “Last Post.” Its somber notes were heart-pierc­ing, as looks on faces of on­look­ers con­veyed.

At ser­vices such as this, we have our own take­aways.

An­other of mine from Sun­day’s was the hymn “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

Softly yet mov­ingly sung by Dawn Cooke, it was a heart­felt plea for the pres­ence of peace in our lives.

“Let there be peace on earth, and let it be­gin with me,” it be­gan. “Let there be peace on earth, The peace that was meant to be.”

I can hear it still.

Some say peace is more frag­ile than it has been for years. Let’s hope, and pray, the world con­di­tion does not get worse.

I’m never “at war” with my­self when it comes to at­tend­ing a le­gion ser­vice.

I hope to hear Sun­day’s two mem­o­rable pieces again and again as years go by.

You would, too. But first you have to be there to un­der­stand why.

JOE BARKOVICH SPE­CIAL TO THE WEL­LAND TRI­BUNE

Bu­glers from the for­mer Bellerophon Bu­gle Band, from left Dan Wil­liams, Mim Ro­drigue, Al­bert Crumb and Bob Clark­son per­form the Last Post at Sun­day's Re­mem­brance Day pa­rade and ser­vice in Chip­pawa Park. At right is pipe ma­jor Tim Wood­head, who later piped the Lament.

JOE BARKOVICH SPE­CIAL TO THE WEL­LAND TRI­BUNE

Bu­glers from the for­mer Bellerophon Bu­gle Band, from left Dan Wil­liams, Mim Ro­drigue, Al­bert Crumb and Bob Clark­son ready to per­form theLast Post. At right is pipe ma­jor Tim Wood­head.

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