A small and solemn Remembrance Day ceremony in Hope paid homage to those whose lives have been claimed in battle, as well as those who made it home yet continue to suffer greatly.
“We will also remember those amongst us that are suffering from PTSD, a totally debilitating condition caused by the signs, sights, sounds and smells of unimaginable conditions that no person should go through,” said Ian Williams, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 228 on Nov. 11 shortly before 11 a.m. “Too many of our returning vets are suffering and receiving no help for their torment and a lot of them don’t know there is help because they’re not being told about it. We can do better.”
Remembrance Day is held every year in Canada on Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. as Armistice Day – the agreement which ended the First World War – took place on Nov. 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. It was first observed in 1919 across the British Commonwealth and continues to be observed by Canada and several commonwealth states.
“During the silence, we will remember our fallen comrades, soldiers, sailors, airmen, UN peacekeepers, police force, firefighters, first responders, missionaries, and all who have served in the name of peace since we last gathered together,” Williams said.
World War II veteran Adolf de Vries, who served with the Royal Dutch Marines, was honoured at the ceremony as he sat near the podium.
Williams words were followed by the singing of Oh Canada, as the masked onlookers hummed and sang along in low tones. After this, Williams read Psalm 23. As the Canadian flag was lowered to half mast, a bugler played The Last Post and then followed two minutes of silence.
Williams read the names of Hope area veterans who have passed away in the past year: Jack Lawrence, Marjorie Houghton, Spencer De Angelis, Lynn Smith, Ian Newbigging, Ed Neu, Bud Ashdown, Arthur Coghill, Tony De Angelis and Hans Pietsch.
“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old: Age shall not worry them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,” Williams read from Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen. Sam and David Gutierrez and one more drummer performed a drum song for those gathered, as Williams urged those gathered to remember “our fallen Indigenous brothers and sisters” who are also remembered on the Nov. 8 National Aboriginal Veterans Day.
Even as all protocol was followed to mark Remembrance Day, the reality of an ongoing pandemic seeped in. Whether it was the warnings of Williams, the very few wreath layers and the small audience, it was evident that things were not business as usual. Yet the donations the Legion brought in from poppy sales and wreaths – all of which stays in Hope for local veterans and their families – were very close to last year’s total of just over $9,000 raised.
Williams spoke of the importance of using the tools available to battle COVID-19 — masks, hand washing, sanitizing, standing six feet apart – as the pandemic continues to claim lives.
And as de Vries laid his wreath on the cenotaph, muffled applause from gloved hands began to spread among the few spectators present. A standing ovation of sorts, for Hope’s last remaining World War II veteran.
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: