It was a packed house at the Performing Arts Centre in Stettler on Wednesday, Nov. 11 as community members gathered for the Remembrance Day ceremony, despite the sub-zero temperature.
The event was the culmination of more than a week of activities aimed at marking the remembrance in schools and other community organizations, honouring those who have made sacrifices in service to the nation.
In his address, Rev. Ross Helgeton told the crowd that the sacrifices that have been made by the veterans is not something one can easily forget and it is because of their sacrifices that “we are free and alive”.
Helgeton said, “Lest we forget? How can we forget? How dare we forget?”
Emceeing the event was Rosalind LaRose, Alberta and Northwestern territories District 4 Commander of the Royal Canadian Legion.
The service started with the parading of the colours, followed by ‘O Canada’.
At 11 a.m., a two-minute silence was observed, which was followed by Marvyn Harris’ ‘Rouse’.
Rev. Carolyn Langford gave the invocation and shared the lesson with the crowd, before Owen Patey orated John McCrae’s ‘In Flanders Fields’, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
Veteran Dale Kennedy shared Legion remarks, which was followed by Brooklyn Tucker’s soulful rendition of ‘Take One Moment to Stand’, accompanied by her teacher Mrs. Kirby.
The wreath laying ceremony constituted a great part of the service as family and community members came up to pay tribute to the fallen.
The ceremony also included an address by Rev. Ross Helgeton, benediction by Rev. Carolyn Langford, before Kevin Miner was instructed to pick up the colours and retire them by Comm. LaRose.
The events ended as the colour guard, followed by the RCMP officers marched to the Cenotaph in Sharpe’s Memorial Park to lay a wreath.
However, veterans and their families continue to face challenges.
“I don’t think enough is being done for families of veterans and it seems to be a lengthy procedure for a lot of veterans in need, sometimes receiving help later, not when necessary,” said LaRose. “Change can take place by canvassing your local MLA or MP.”
Being the daughter of a war veteran, LaRose reflected on what war means to the generation now, who seems confused between the virtual world of video games and the real world.
“To our future generations, war and bloodshed are real,” said LaRose. “We have been extremely fortunate that it has occurred across the water, not in our back yard, but I believe that several of the youth today are confused between the video games and the reality of war, it’s not a game!”
LaRose thinks it is important to remember the sacrifices of our veterans, everyday, not just once a year.
“I would ask everyone to remember them every day, not just once a year! I feel it is taken for granted the freedoms we are so fortunate to have, and if everyone could visit countries where this has been taken away, they may appreciate what we have,” said LaRose.
Speaking of the Legion Branch 59, LaRose said, “If I could improve the experience of legion members in the future, I would like all members to have a positive image of the legion.”
According to LaRose, the legion is more than a building in a community, consisting of 270 in the province alone.
“It is one large family, there is so much to learn about the largest, greatest membership organization, consisting of all provinces, in Canada,” added LaRose. “Everyone is welcome to join the Legion, unlike years ago when you had to be a member of a veteran’s family. I would like to extend this invitation to all, and I encourage all Legion members to broaden their scope of the Legion and what the Legion does.”
Remembrance at Wm. E HayEarlier, on Tuesday, Nov. 10, students from William E. Hay Secondary Campus and Stettler Elementary School, as well as members of the community, gathered in the high school gymnasium o to pay their respects to the men and women who have fought in world conflicts, some of whom did not return alive.
The gymnasium was full to bursting, with the gallery full as well, as students and community members gathered.
The colour party brought in their flags and students led the ceremony, speaking about the world wars and the impacts they had on the world, including on the soldiers who came home, and their families — and the toll on the countries which Canadian soldiers went to defend.
The school’s band and choir performed, first by singing the national anthem and in closing with God Save the Queen, but in between put on performances of songs that would easily have brought surviving Second World War veterans back in time, as the songs selected were popular tunes at the time.With files from Stacey Lavallie