July 17th, 2024

Crowds gathers at Cenotaph for Remembrance Day

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on November 14, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber Members of the 20th Independent Field Battery participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Lethbridge Cenotaph on Saturday.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Hundreds of people wearing poppies gathered under clear skies on Saturday morning to honour the Canadian men and women who have served and made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The outdoor ceremony was one of two simultaneously staged Saturday on Remembrance Day – the other being indoors at the Agri-Food Hub and Trade Centre.

Crowds stood where ever there was space in front of the Cenotaph, on City Hall grounds and on 4th Avenue to listen to speakers and pay tribute with two minutes of silence that was only interrupted by the rising winds that fell upon Lethbridge with a fury minutes after the ceremony ended.

The ceremony started off with the traditional vigil ceremony followed by Sarah Folden singing the national anthem. Ken Lewis performed the Last Post on his trumpet, the haunting sounds of his instrument as clear as the skies above before the crowd fell silent, a silence broken only when John Grey played the first notes of the Piper’s Lament on his bagpipes.

Captain Luke Watson, padre of the 20th Independent Field Battery, read “In Flanders Fields” before Major Robert Mein, commanding officer of the 20th Independent Field Battery based at the Lethbridge airport, spoke to the gathering.

Mein asked the crowd how they would remember the fallen after the ceremony was over and they had dispersed.

He also asked what those who were being honoured would want them to do. Mein said he believed they would want the people in attendance to have a drink and enjoy a little laughter for them because those who served and died gave them that opportunity.

“Your duty as a citizen is the same as the duties of our soldiers and that is what we must remember. That’s our solemn promise,” he said.

“The question is sometimes asked ‘what do we do after the service? . . . How should we behave? Is it like a funeral?’ Look at all those names on that cenotaph. What would they want you to do the rest of the day? They were soldiers – I absolutely guarantee they would want you to put a drink back, have a little fun, enjoy your time with your family, enjoy the celebration of life that comes from people that give you something and give you your freedom and give you the opportunity to live the life that you wish to live,” said Mein.

“The sacrifice of those that fell and all those that served is to give you the opportunity to live a great life. And that’s really what I think this day is about – a solemn service of remembrance and to have a great life and be grateful with a thankful heart for all that’s been done,” added the major.

Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the battery Dory Rossiter laid a wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of all Lethbridge residents.

The ceremony also included flyover in a Harvard Mark IV by Geoffrey Brayne.

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