Remembrance Day, celebrated each year on Nov. 11, is a day to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of Canadian service members – both past, and present.
And while Airdrie residents plan to commemorate the day, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in modified versions of the day’s festivities.
Yvonne Young, public relations officer at the Airdrie Legion, said Remembrance Day ceremonies are planned for local schools in the lead-up to Nov. 11, along with a virtual ceremony that will be broadcast online on the holiday, produced by the Bert Church LIVE Theatre.
She added the legion is encouraging residents to view the online service as they are not able to hold a formal ceremony at Genesis Place Recreation Centre as they have done in previous years, as it is a time to honour Canadian veterans.
“We cherish [and remember] their sacrifices,” she said. “I have family that served in World War I and World War II, and it’s quite important for me that the youth understand why we are doing what we’re doing.”
There will also be a small ceremony held outdoors at the Airdrie Cenotaph, located west of the Town and Country Centre, at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 11.
Bill Dunbar, president of the Airdrie Legion, said while there are no restrictions on the number of people who can attend the ceremony, attendees are required to mask-up and practise social distancing.
They are also encouraging that people who attend be vaccinated, though it is not a requirement.
“We’re not going to be checking vaccinations,” he said. “We would prefer people to be vaccinated, but anybody can come.”
Dunbar added the ceremony will finish around 11:15 a.m. and will be a shorter version of what is normally hosted at Genesis Place, with two speakers, a few prayers, and the laying of wreaths.
The two speakers will be Lieutenant Colonel Al Price and Mayor Peter Brown, with Dunbar serving as the master of service. Cadets will also be in attendance to provide the Cenotaph Guard and assist with the escorting of the wreaths.
There will also be the traditional moment of silence at 11 a.m. to commemorate those who have sacrificed their lives in service of their nation.
“To me, it’s [about] remembering the people, the veterans who actually laid their lives on the line for our country,” Dunbar said. “That’s really what we’re memorializing and it goes way back to the Boer War.
“Also, with Vimy Ridge [in World War I], the sacrifices Canadians made, the battles they won and lost, and the lives we gave – that's huge.”
Dunbar added people still talk about the accomplishments of the Candian Forces during the battle at Vimy Ridge in 1917.
“The British and French fought the Germans there and didn’t get anywhere,” he said. “The Canadians were the first ones to take the ridge.
“It’s remembering and understanding our history of our country.”
In a statement, Blake Richards, Banff-Airdrie MP, said Remembrance Day is an important time to pause and remember those who have made “the ultimate sacrifice in protection of the freedoms we hold dear.”
In his November Richard’s Report, the MP highlighted the history of the poppy and encouraged Airdronians to support the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy campaign, which raises funds for programs and services to support veterans.
“Poppies speak to the sacrifice of the dead but also serve as a message to the living to press on,” he said. “From the ultimate sacrifice, life continues on, and our hard-fought-for freedoms that we hold dear should be cherished, and never forsaken.”
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