The selling of poppies and the marking of Remembrance Day will go on this year in Hope and the Fraser Canyon, albiet in a different fashion during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Poppy trays are popping up this week at Hope businesses even though the Cadets won’t be out selling them this year. Any funds made go into the Legion’s poppy fund and those dollars stay in the community to assist local veterans and their families said president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 228 (Hope) Ian Williams.
For the Hope Legion, Remembrance Day is normally a grand affair with a parade, a well-attended ceremony and a crowd at the Legion afterwards. This year, Williams is urging people to lay wreaths or pay a visit to the Memorial Park Cenotaph either before 10:45 a.m. or after the 11 a.m. ceremony is over, and to promptly leave the area after they have paid their respects.
“I totally encourage them to take their poppies, after the ceremony or before the ceremony, and place them on the wreath or on the cenotaph,” he said. “After sunset on Remembrance Day, there should be no poppies worn.”
The 11 a.m. ceremony will be a scaled back one, with a bugler, six flag bearers and eight wreaths laid during the ceremony and with people attending physically distanced. Adolph Devries, Hope’s last remaining World War II veteran, Williams said, will be attending and laying a wreath for the Dutch Marines that he himself was a part of during the war.
The ceremony will be livestreamed on the Legion’s Facebook group (Royal Canadian Legion Branch (Hope 228)).
Following the brief ceremony, the Legion will be open for members only and a strict 50-person limit has been set. People are being asked to wear masks when they enter, then once they are inside they must sit with their groups and not walk around or mingle in the venue. And to make room for all members, people are being asked to come for a brief visit and beverage and then depart.
While some Legions around Canada are suffering during the pandemic, the Hope Legion has made do, Williams said, assisted by income from bookings at their hall. And the forced two-month closure of the downstairs lounge during COVID-19 allowed the volunteers to clean and fix up the space until it gleamed.
Since the Legion re-opened in June, around 55 new members have signed up. The Legion is now a members only establishment.
Portraits of veterans have been hung up in a hallway adjacent to the lounge area, where veterans and those who have passed away are honoured.
The Hope Legion recently lost veteran Marjorie Houghton, who passed away on Oct. 5 just shy of her 98th birthday. Houghton served as a wireless operator in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, she was stationed in Nova Scotia.
In Boston Bar, Susan Cosulich said a small ceremony will take place on Remembrance Day at 11 a.m. at the Cenotaph, with wreaths laid, a two minute silence and the reading of the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. As the community is a small one, they are unlikely to get close to the 50-person limit on gatherings. Yet the gathering won’t include coffee in the community hall as it has in previous years.
People are encouraged to come to the Cenotaph and place their poppies down. And those who stay home are encouraged to observe the two minute silence at 11 a.m., which marks the formal ending of hostilities of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918.
The ceremony will be held a day after Boston Bar Elementary Secondary School students hold their own ceremony, complete with rocks adorned with hand-painted poppies. These will be placed at the Cenotaph on Nov. 10.
“If you attend the Cenotaph on November 11 to observe 2 minutes of silence, please know that the entire school and staff will be ’there in spirit’ while we all remember and give thanks to the brave men and women who have protected us and fought and died for us,” a write-up in the Boston Bar newsletter stated.
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