Despite the overcast sky and chilly temperatures, crowds gathered at the provincial cenotaph at the B.C. legislature Friday to honour members and veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces.
With Remembrance Day ceremonies back in full swing after COVID-19 restrictions hampered attendance, hundreds of Greater Victoria residents took the opportunity to participate in a moment of silence, listen to speakers and place their poppies and wreaths around the cenotaph.
“I think it’s incredibly important for us to come together at least once a year, if not more, to really just reflect on the service of these veterans and the people currently in the armed forces,” said Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto.
The sacrifices of service people, Alto said, go toward ensuring the democratic process remains intact and citizens can feel safe going about their daily lives.
For many people who return to the cenotaph year after year, Remembrance Day is about tradition, honour and passing down a deep appreciation for Canada’s Armed Forces.
Norm Kemp, who was joined by his daughter and grandchildren, said he has been attending the Victoria Remembrance Day ceremony for years to honour his father who was in the forces.
His daughter has also been attending since she was young and now brings her children.
“We find it’s important to come down and remember everybody who gave their lives or served in our services,” Kemp said. “My daughter and I have been coming since she was four years old and now my grandkids come. It’s important. All these people spent a lot of time trying to protect us and we have to recognize that.”
For Kemp and many others who attended the ceremony, tradition and honour were key elements associated with Remembrance Day.
Capt. Tim Cheesman attended the ceremony to remember his father and grandfather, as well as revisit his own service.
“My grandfather and my father were both in the First World War and the Second World War and felt that service was very, very important.”
The over-arching theme that came from this year’s speeches was a call to action to work continuously for peace, in an effort to avoid future conflicts that require military intervention, thereby reducing the number of causalities and people wounded during service.
“The words of the reverend, I felt were really compelling,” Alto said. “His challenge was really, I heard, was to work every day to ensure that conflict is unnecessary but in reality, we haven’t yet reached that place. So I think the service of our veterans, the service of our military really do need to be honoured and reflected on.”
Regardless of personal connections with members of the armed forces or veterans, Alto said it’s important to take the time to think about the sacrifices made to ensure a safe and peaceful life for those across Canada.
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