Lest we forget.
Remembrance Day in Canada is a family affair. As is the case in Vancouver, thousands of men, women, children and the elderly gathered around The Cenotaph at Victory Square on November 11, 2010 to remember those who had fallen in the many wars around the world that this young country was involved in.
Nearly everyone wore poppy on their lapel or somewhere close to their heart. The ceremony began at 10 AM and during the next two hours military songs, national anthem, and other tunes such as It’s A Long Way To Temporary, Maple Leave Forever, O Canada, God Save The Queen, Land of Hope and Glory, Abide With Me etc. were played by the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Band and some were sung by The Vancouver Youth Bach Choir lead by musical director Paula Kremer. Invictus was sung by Christopher Gaze.
As was expected, the ceremony had the Mounting of The Guard, The Last Post, The Lament (by Pipe Major Mike Bain, The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada), Changing of the Guard, Two Minute of Silence, The Rouse, gun salutes, military aircraft flypast, cannon firing and more.
A poem titled A Single Shot written by Jennifer Payanden from Little Flower Academy was read. Lt. Governor of BC Steven Point, the newly-resigned Premier Gordon Campbell, Mayor Gregor Robertson and other dignitaries all placed wreath at the Cenotaph. Later, the public was invited to place their poppies as well. Many veterans soldiers wheeled by the Cenotaph to pay their respects. The U.S. Consulate General sent representatives. The Olympic cauldron was relit for the occasion as well.
One of the highlights of the day was when the choir sang In Flanders Field, that famous wartime poem written by a Canadian soldier/physician John McCrae (1872-1918) put to music.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lt. Colonel McCrae wrote the poem in May 1915 after he witnessed the death of his friend Lt. Alexis Helmer. Three years later, McCrae himself met the same fate when he caught pneumonia while commanding No 3 Canadian General Hospital (McGill) at Boulogne-sur-mer in France.
Elsewhere, the Vancouver Chinatown also had a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Monument to the Chinese Canadians. In Stanley Park, there was a small ceremony at the Japanese Memorial near Lumberman’s Arch. During the Second World War, there were Chinese Canadian men and women volunteered for service. It was this display of their loyalty to Canada that many believed helped them gain the right to vote after the war.
[Photos by Ray Van Eng] www.vancouver21.com