May 18th, 2024

Lethbridge marks Remembrance Day

By Lethbridge Herald on November 12, 2021.

Residents lay their poppies at the foot of the Cenotaph at the conclusion of Thursday’s Remembrance Day ceremony. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

A huge socially-distanced crowd turned out on a cool morning Thursday for Remembrance Day services at the Lethbridge Cenotaph.

Thursday’s ceremony next to City Hall marked the 103rd anniversary of Remembrance Day.

The ceremony featured a speech by retired Canadian army Colonel and current City Manager Craig Dalton, a fly-past by two CT-155 Hawk Trainers courtesy of the Canadian Forces Flying School based at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, and the laying of wreaths by various dignitaries.

Geoffrey Brayne of Lethbridge also did a fly-past in a Harvard MK IV during the ceremony.

Two minutes of silence were also observed, one minute for those who lost their lives serving Canada and one for the living who were scarred by conflict.

Those laying wreaths include Legion Ladies Auxiliary President Helene Carter for bereaved mothers, and retired Warrant Officer Jim Magrath for veterans. 

Lethbridge MP Rachael Harder laid the wreath for the federal government while the city’s two MLAs, Nathan Neudorf and Shannon Phillips, laid the wreath for the provincial government.

Reeve Torry Campbell laid the Lethbridge Country wreath while mayor Blaine Hyggen laid the city’s wreath.

The tradition of the Cenotaph vigil was explained by Master of Ceremonies Kent Perry, who described how in England in the 1400s a nobleman’s funeral would include the display of his armour. One knight would carry his coat of arms, a second would carry his sword, a third his shield and a fourth his helmet. Sarah Folden then sung O’Canada.

Perry explained the history of the Armistice and its signing between Germany and the Allies at the end of the First World War, “the war to end all wars.”

“Since that great day, many Allied countries have recognized the sacrifices made by their veterans in that war and all wars since then. In many parts of the world, people observe two consecutive in minutes of silence at 1100 hours local time as a sign of respect.

“The first minute for those who died in the war, the second minute dedicated to the living left behind that were deeply by affected by the conflict,” he said.

Those minutes were observed after the playing of Last Post by John Van Dyk.

The Last Post is played for two purposes in Commonwealth countries, the MC said.

“The first is an implied summoning of the spirits of the fallen to the Cenotaph, the second is to symbolically end the day so that the period of silence before ruse is blown becomes  in effect a ritual night vigil.”

Dalton, who was appointed to his City post in May, 2020 has a long history of military service, spending 25 years in the army, which included exchange duties in the US and Australia. He commanded the 2nd Regiment ,Royal Canadian Horse Artillery from 2007 to 2009 and the 5th Canadian Division, Support Group Canadian Forces base Gagetown from 2012 to 2014.

He also served in Cyprus in 1993, Bosnia 1998 and recently in Afghanistan in 2010.

After leaving the military in 2014, he joined the government of New Brunswick and later served in the Prince Edward Island government.

Dalton called the ceremony “an opportunity to pause and reflect on the service of over two million Canadians over the course of our history who answered the call for duty and put their lives on the line for us so that we can continue to live in the great country we call home.”

Over the past century those Canadians served in places such as Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge and Ypres, Nakiska Islands, Ortona, Normandy and other theatres of war, he said.

“They’ve also served in a variety of peacekeeping operations over the past six decades and they have continued to serve us here at home. Lethbridge and surrounding areas have played a key part of this rich and proud history of service.

In World War One, Lethbridge was authorized to raise a battalion for overseas service, the 113th Overseas Battalion, he said.

“Sadly, over 150 men from Lethbridge and area would make the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War” and their names are inscribed on the city cenotaph, he said.

“Today’s 20th Independent Field Battery, that serves here in Lethbridge, traces its lineage to the 25th Battery that was established in 1908 and gunners from Lethbridge have proudly served in both world wars and numerous peacekeeping operations and more recently they’ve served in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Latvia and the Ukraine.”

Most recently, Dalton said, they’ve been part of the Canadian Forces response to COVID-19 and currently are serving us in the Rogers Pass doing avalanche control.

“Whenever I stop and reflect on this incredible Canadian legacy of history and incredible Canadian legacy of service, I’m also struck by the legacy of sacrifice that it entailed. As we gather here today, it’s important for us to remember the 60,000 Canadians that were killed in World War One, the 170,000 wounded, the 45,000 Canadians killed in World War Two and the 55,000 Canadians wounded, the 516 Canadians who were killed in Korea, the 158 Canadians who laid down their lives in Afghanistan and the over 130 Canadians who gave their lives in the service of peace on peacekeeping and peace support operations around the world,” said Dalton.

“We must also remember those thousands and thousands of Canadians that were fortunate enough to return home but continue to live with the physical and mental scars of their service,” he added.

“These brave Canadians were also ordinary Canadians. They were sons and daughters, wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. They were carpenters, labourers, electricians, policemen, teachers, students, they were proud contributing members of their communities. They had dreams and desires to live full and rich lives, lives they freely put on the line for us and sadly in some cases, sacrificed for us so that we could live in this fantastic country we live in today,” he called.

“If this is not the definition of heroism, I don’t know what is.”

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