Yesterday I heard two presenters say that Remembrance Day is not to be confused with Veteran’s Day. Armistice Day is on 11 November and is also known as Remembrance Day. It marks the day World War One ended, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. A two-minute silence is held at 11am to remember the people who have died in wars.
Like everyone else, I am disappointed that the Don Cherry fiasco stole so much from the highlights of a beautiful day remembering those soldiers in our families and in our Nation who offered the ultimate sacrifice in past wars, Afghanistan and because of selfless service.
I was really pleased about attending the commemoration at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium this year and taking in the various rituals, but indoors, while cozy warm. Last year, we headed to the cenotaph downtown and it got a bit cold at times, although it was also an amazing experience. Next year, the field of crosses.
The seats were assigned, as we arrived. This created a sense of calm and order. Beautiful music was provided by the HMCS Tecumseh Band along with Jeanette Embree, Detachment Commander, CF Recruiting Center, Director of Music, Royal Canadian Navy Reserve. What a lovely repertoire.
I thought about my Dad while singing this hymn. I used to sit next to Mom in the Protestant Chapel pews while Dad directed or sang in the choir. I felt them beside me yesterday…and I felt surrounded by my family, many who have served. My Great Uncle Joseph Gallant gave the ultimate sacrifice, as did my Great Grandfather John Moors. This hymn was a perfect one to bring everyone home to me.
While we were prompted to save our applause until the very end of the laying of the wreaths, two of our Veterans from the Colonel Belcher caused our hearts to stir and we broke into wild applause. I cried my face off at these points in the service, as well as during the Last Post. Our friend, Helena, laid a wreath on behalf of the Alberta Retired Teachers. We were very proud of her for representing us.
After the commemorative service, and as we were leaving, I noticed that Ralph MacLean, the 97 year old Veteran who had served with Canadians in Hong Kong in 1941. Please follow the link and listen to his story on the Memory Project. Through various circumstances and very quickly, I connected with Ralph’s son, daughter and grandson, author of Forgiveness, author Mark Sakamoto.
I won’t soon forget the kind hearts of Ralph’s family.
I had the opportunity to exchange quite a number of stories with Ralph and I feel that it was a huge blessing to meet him. I will be visiting him at the Colonel Belcher.
As I took my evening walk, slow around the circle because Max is ailing badly, I took in the beauty of the day, my friendships with Janet and Pat, my children, the freedoms I enjoy. I thought about my family and their huge military connections. I contemplated including their photographs here…but, I’m leaving the images of their faces and my research in my heart. I’ll leave it all up to peace…the sky…the river. I will always Remember.