Ceremony marks 100th anniversary of end of First World War
Leave it to MLA Shirley Bond to bring us into the tick-infested, eight-foot deep trenches of a combat zone, standing in the muck up to our knees in the rain, eating moldy bread to demand we see – if only for a moment – the realities of war during the Remembrance Day ceremonies held at the Civic Centre Sunday morning.
It was written all over her somber face as she quoted a short paragraph from Pierre Berton’s book Vimy.
Bond was at the Remembrance Day event to honour those veterans that were present, and those who were left behind on the battle fields.
“Lest we forget” suddenly meant something to each and every person at the ceremony. We weren’t going to forget, thanks to Bond’s stark reminder.
Bond was just one of many speakers at the Civic Centre ceremony that acknowledged the 100th anniversary of the First World War where about 200 people were on their feet as several hundred others were lucky enough to find a seat for the 90-minute event.
“As we reflect on the 100th anniversary of the armistice, it is hard, if not impossible to imagine what it was like for those who fought and what they endured on our behalf,” Bond said, who went on to thank those who have and are serving in the military today.
Other dignitaries who spoke during the ceremony included MP Todd Doherty, MLA Mike Morris, acting Mayor of Prince George Garth Frizell and Chief Dominic Frederick of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation.
Then came a few words from Memorial Cross Mother Colleen Fitzpatrick who lost her son Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick on March 20, 2010 when he succumbed to injuries sustained in a bomb blast in Afghanistan where he had been serving as an infantryman with the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, based at CFB Edmonton.
She emotionally talked about the toll war takes on those left behind and that having loved ones acknowledged during the Remembrance Day ceremonies helps.
“It’s so meaningful to the families that their loved ones be remembered,” Fitzpatrick said.
After more of the traditional ceremony took place, including the performance of Amazing Grace, the recitation of Flanders Fields, the Warriors’ Lament and the singing of the national anthem and the royal anthem, those in attendance were invited to go to the temporary cenotaph placed in the middle of the street on Seventh Avenue, close to the Terry Fox Memorial.
Thousands of people attended and when the Last Post was bugled and two minutes of silence were observed all eyes were raised as an RCAF Hawk aircraft from 419 Squadron flashed across the sky to honour those who have been affected by conflict and to acknowledge the armistice.
A very emotional Robyn Holling stood at the back of the crowd at the temporary cenotaph in honour of generations of her family who have been affected by war.
“I grew up in a military family,” Holling said, whose dad served in the regiment in New Westminster and her grandfather, who was in the Royal Air Force.
“It’s just hard this year because my dad is not well,” Holling said.
Glen Holling now lives in Williams Lake and Robyn doesn’t get to see him as much as she’d like.
“Being in a military family, this has been part of my whole life, right? So this just brings back memories of watching my dad in the parade so it’s just hard to be here without my family.”
Holling said she watches documentaries about war at this time every year.
“When you see what the people went through and the families and what they lost and you look at our young children – they have no idea,” Holling said.
During the cenotaph ceremony there were children who were laughing and playing nearby, as parents were there to remember.
“To see those children playing it was one of those happy and sad things,” Holling explained.
“They don’t have a concept of it – and isn’t that great?”
John Scott, vice president of the Royal Canadian Legion BC/ Yukon Command, salutes as a bugler plays Reveille on Sunday as part of Remembrance Day ceremonies.