There are two major Remembrance Day services occurring on Nov. 11th- a large ceremony at the Red Deer Arena as well as a second, smaller ceremony for Korean War vets downtown at Veteran’s Park.
Citizens can begin to gather shortly before 10:30 a.m. for both ceremonies. Both celebrations are led by the efforts of the Royal Canadian Legion, Red Deer Branch.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, as well as the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day Allied forces were able to land in Normandy, France, a pivotal moment in World War II history.
“By tradition, we try to keep the services similar. Remembrance Day services started out as commemorating those that died, but now we also honour the ones who are still living. There aren’t many of them so it’s important that they don’t feel forgotten. This is about remembering all of the veterans,” said Bev Hanes, president of the Red Deer branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
The event will begin shortly 11 a.m. with opening words and an opening prayer. There will be some scripture and a message from local ministries, traditional ceremony rituals and then two minutes of silence at 11 a.m.
The ceremony includes a placement of wreaths in honour of loved ones who passed during war or as a result of their service. Wreaths can be purchased through the Red Deer Legion branch, where details on laying order, prices and names can be taken care of via telephone.
“We start with a wreath in the name of the Queen and move down a specific order from there. Wreaths can be laid for a loved one if anyone wants to do that. If they let us know, we put it on the program so people can follow in order,” explained Hanes.
“To end the ceremony, we have the Trooping the Colour, with the flags in the beginning. They do their march by veterans and salute them. The Colour Party goes out and then the sergeant of arms comes back and gets the veterans and then they parade as well.”
The Korean War vets downtown will have a similar service, including two minutes of silence, placement of wreaths and a small parade to honour the veterans.
Weeks of preparation go into the Remembrance Day ceremony. As president of the Legion, Hanes has a lot of work to do to get things running smoothly. Hanes said that one of the most difficult aspects of planning is trying to gather enough people for the Colour Party to carry flags for the ceremony.
There are also many groups around the City that Hanes must contact in order to prepare – armouries, cadet clubs, a sergeant of arms, the City to rent the arenas as well as members of ministry and other speakers.
Coming on the heels of the recent tragedies in Ottawa, Hanes wanted to remind people that even with isolated incidences such as those, Canada is still a country with an overall good quality of life, where soldiers fought hard for freedoms and opportunities.
“I think everybody needs to remember and reflect that there were so many before us – the veterans that paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we could have this life. We really do have one of the best lifestyles in this country,” she said.
“Even with the incidents that happened in the east two weeks ago, we have an exceptionally good life and without soldiers and veterans who prepared to stand up for our country and for people’s freedoms, we would be lost. I like to see people talk about freedom but really think about what it means. People went to war for freedom of self and to have their own beliefs.”
Citizens are encouraged to take two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on Nov 11th, even if not attending a ceremony.