Approximately 1,000 people gathered at the Smithers cenotaph to take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies Nov. 11 following two years of reduced services due to COVID-19 restrictions.
People stood quietly in the cold weather as the RCMP, Cadet Corp., Canadian Rangers, Girl Guides and Scouts and the Colour Guard took their places in Veterans Peace Park.
As the clock stuck 11 a.m., there was solemn and silent reflection on those who have served in wars and conflicts, the 117,000 Canadians who gave their lives in service to the nation, and those still serving in the Canadian military and peacekeeping missions all across the globe.
Remembrance Day was first observed in Canada, and throughout the British Commonwealth in 1919. It was originally called “Armistice Day,” to commemorate the armistice agreement that had ended the First World War at 11 a.m. on November 11th, 1918 – the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.
The Smithers branch (#63), of the Royal Canadian Legion has organized this commemoration since 1927.
After two years of holding the ceremonies virtually, due to COVID-19, this year’s gathering was a return to the traditional live event.
“The importance of a live ceremony honouring our Veterans and their sacrifices is considered paramount by the Legion,” said Danny Martin, National Ceremony director.
“After a time when we were all isolated for months by the pandemic, ensuring the symbolism of the Legion and community leaders paying homage to our veterans is more important than ever,” he said.
Shawna Martin, from the Smithers Legion led the ceremonies in Smithers Veterans Park.
Capt. (ret’d) Rev’d. C. Douglas Campbell, padre, Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 63 delivered this year’s message centred around healing the division of the past two years between people, and within the community, and the need to “tone down and quiet the ugly nature of communications,” between those who disagree with one another.
The padre reminded those present, that veterans “fought for our rights to agree and to disagree, but we must do so thoughtfully and with respect.”
“We are truly a people of peace, of respect, tolerance, kindness, and honour. They are all framed in our national conscience. They are the torch which has been passed to us all,” he said.
“Be yours to hold it high.”