The Dales House at 414 Alexander Street circa 1890 CVA Photo SGN 490

Friday, November 12, 2010

Remembrance Day - Lest We Forget...

CVA 99-1561 - Armistice Day crowd at Cenotaph. - 11 Nov. 1926 Stuart Thompson
I never used to actually go to the Vancouver Cenotaph for the annual Remembrance Day observance until fifteen years ago when I started going out with my parter Richard. This year will mark the 15th year we have been together and the 15th year we have gone together to the Cenotaph to remember and pay our respect to our Canadian Veterans.

CVA 99-2697 - Remembrance Day ceremony at Cenotaph. - 11 Nov. 1932
 I find the ceremony terribly moving. 15 years ago, it was all about the old Vets from WWI and II. These days there are no Canadian WWI Vets alive, and though there is a large contingent of WWII, Korean War, and even Viet Nam War Vets and the ceremony, the focus has naturally shifted to the recent and ongoing deaths of Canadians in Afghanistan. 
CVA 99-2691 - Remembrance Day ceremony at Cenotaph. - 11 Nov. 1932
For the past four or five years now Richard and I have had a tradition of walking down to the Cenotaph with our friends Graham Elvidge and Kathleen Stormont. About two and a half years ago Graham and Kathleen's daughter Charlotte was born, so our Remembrance Day party of four has grown. This year, along with Charlotte and Kathleen's Mom Aloma, our friend Lisa Binkley came along...

My grandfather was a WWI vet. I am not sure where it happened, but I know he was gassed during the war. Though he survived and returned to Canada, I know that he had health problems for the rest of his life. Richard's Dad was a WWII vet.  

This year, for the first time in a long time, the weather was decent. The rain held off until the end of the ceremony, but my face, like every year, was wet with tears. From the singing of In Flanders Fields to the playing of The Last Post, the flyovers of vintage airplanes (no Spitfires, sadly), the Moment of Silence, Reveille, all in that time-honoured quintessentially Edwardian Vancouver environment... The Dominion Building, The Province Building, The Flack Block, and all those ghosts... Remembrance Day in that environment is the closest thing to a time travel experience one can have in Vancouver.

I saw other neighbours in the crowd today. Maybe next year we can make a point of attending and remembering together.

CVA 99-2010 - Armistice Day ceremonies at Cenotaph. - 11 Nov. 1929

After God Save The Queen was sung and the last wreathes were laid, the rain started to pour, not heavily though. As we walked through Chinatown another Remembrance Day Ceremony was starting at the Chinese Canadian Pioneer and Veterans monument at Keefer and Columbia. There is an amazing display in the Chinese Canadian Military Museum at 555 Columbia Street on the contributions of Chinese Canadians during World War II. It is well worth a visit.

I did a little post on Facebook talking about going to the Cenotaph and my intrepid AHA Media journalist friend April Smith sent me a link to AHA Media's coverage of todays events. April and her colleagues do amazing work and this was no exception. For a closeup up look at today's events, here is a link to AHA Media's coverage of Remembrance Day at the Cenotaph this year.

Thanks April!

No comments:

Post a Comment