Passing The Flame Of Remembrance

Pipestone Flyer

Leduc Legion's President Ian Weikl (on right), and Vice President Sean Cuppens (on left) escort the first veteran through the honour guard posted at the Legion entrance.

 

 

9:30 am November 11, 2012 saw over a thousand people seated around the indoor soccer field of the LRC quietly waiting for Remembrance Day services to begin. Services got underway with the March of the Veterans leading a long line of groups that paraded down the field to show their respect.

Mr. Jim Montney stepped in front of the microphone to let his rich, full voice fill the area as he led the crowd in O' Canada, and a couple more hymns throughout the service.

MP James Rajotte then came forward to address the crowd. He shared that this year was the 95th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, and the 70th anniversary of Dieppe. He spoke to the veterans both present and passed when he said "Your courage and devotion to duty inspires us all."

Mayor Krischke was the next up to the podium, and he spoke of how "More than 1.5 million men and women have served our country, and they work to protect our rights and freedoms that flow in a democratic country. 116,000 Canadians have given their lives in defence of our freedom, and sometimes I wonder if we really comprehend what that means?" He went on to quote Canada's 13th Prime Minister John Diefenbaker who, as he introduced the Canadian Bill Of Rights in Parliament, famously said, "I am a Canadian […] free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and mankind."   

The Director of Enforcement Services for Leduc County, Clarence Nelson, represented the County as he stated, "The fallen are the reason that we wake up to our alarm clocks every morning, instead of gunfire."

It was then time to place the wreaths around the cenotaph at the front of the field and the first wreath was laid by the 2012 Leduc Silver Cross Mother, Mrs. Sharon Schmidt, who had lost her husband Sebastien Schmidt, in active service to our country. It was particularly moving when after Mrs. Schmidt had set the wreath down, her daughter placed her father's military cap beneath the wreath.

By the end of the ceremony wreaths lined the entire front of the podium, making a beautiful, but solemn, sight.

Leduc Legion's President Ian Weikl closed the ceremony by exhorting young people not to forget the sacrifices made by those who went before them by stating, "We bequeath this remembrance onto our youth."

As the lines of people filed out of the LRC, many made their way to the Civic Centre for the ceremony at the city cenotaph. About 150 people braved the cold to give their two minutes of silence promptly at 11:00 am. The Legion's colour guard stood at attention as Pastor Grant McDowell gave a benediction, and Last Post and Reveille was played.

From there, the crowd thinned out considerably, but there were still many people who continued on to the final celebration of remembrance at the Legion. The back hall was packed with different uniforms, including RCMP, Canadian Military, Air Cadets, Firefighters, British Military, and veterans from the Vietnam and Korean wars. 

Upon the opening of the main hall, local Air Cadets formed an honour guard lining the front entrance with crossed flag standards. A piper and drummer led the procession into the room, with the Legion's President and Vice President assisting the first veteran through the doors.

A live band was on hand to entertain the crowd for the afternoon, and the Legion had allowed individuals or groups to purchase kegs of beer that would be poured, free of charge, and given out to the veterans. By Sunday, three and a half kegs had been purchased.

This year, there was also a very unique table that had been set up by Legion Member Dwayne MacKenzie, who is the former Director of the Canadian Association for UN Peacekeepers. He instituted an old British tradition by setting up a table laden with an empty plate to signify those killed in action and veterans that have passed away, a salt shaker that represents the salt of the earth, and an empty pitcher and glass. Anyone  can approach the table, announce the name of a lost loved one or comrade, and have a drink in remembrance of that person.

Ultimately, Dwayne summed up all the thoughts, emotions and experiences of this day in one succinct statement when he encouraged everyone to, "..make every day a day of remembrance." 

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