Each year on Nov. 11, much of the world stops to remember those allied soldiers who died and continue to die fighting for their countries, and with each solemn ceremony there emerges a new generation of Canadians old enough to be able to comprehend the sadness and loss that conflicts inflict, and that their world would likely be a very different place had thousands of men and women not sacrificed their own lives in defence of future generations’ freedom.
Boundary Central Secondary School was the focal point last Tuesday, when students from several West Boundary elementary schools joined their high school counterparts for an early Remembrance Day ceremony in the BCSS gymnasium. Beautifully orchestrated by Greenwood Legion president Bob Walker and his club associates, along with members of Grand Forks Pipes and Drums and the RCMP, Principal Bo Macfarlane and faculty members from all schools, the service was a poignant reminder for most of how fortunate we are, not only to live in Canada but also to have enjoyed complete freedom throughout our lives.
There were strong musical performances by BCSS students and teachers, as well as a moving rendition of Glyn Lehmann’s To Be Free by the elementary school students. The rear of the gymnasium housed a display of student designs illustrating various aspects of the two world wars, impressive testaments to how much thought the students had put into their preparation for the event.
A haunting bagpipe arrangement of The Lament was performed flawlessly by Gordie Jones which, combined with two minutes of silence, brought tears to the eyes of many that morning, and those same emotions were poised to carry over into the next day’s ceremonies.
At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the Kettle Valley Cenotaph was surrounded by more than 200 people.
It was a crisp, sunny morning, ideal for an outdoor ceremony, and, again, the attendees ranged in age from nine to 90, one of the oldest being 93-year-old master of ceremonies Paul Lautard. As he had for many years, Normandy survivor Lautard stood proudly to attention before the Canadian flag as it was lowered to begin the ceremony, which included a perfectly-recited rendition of In Flanders Fields by a group of Young Adventurers, a heartfelt speech of hope by Pastor Rick Steingard and the traditional laying of wreaths by a parade of groups and individuals.
As is their tradition, the McMynn family provided some hot beverages and sweet treats for the kids and young-at-heart, and the large crowd left the 91-year-old cenotaph with a heightened reverence for veterans and active soldiers alike, and an increased appreciation for life as we know it.
Only a few kilometres away in Greenwood, an equally moving ceremony was taking place in front of the historic building now home to City Hall. When the building was constructed in the late 19th century, the second Boer War was about to break out in South Africa, while the “War to End all Wars,” the cessation of which gave birth to Remembrance Day, was nearly two decades away.
Presided over by Bob Walker and Grand Forks Pipes and Drums, the ceremony was watched by dozens of spectators, many of whom made their way after the formalities to the Legion for refreshments and more music.
It was, all in all, another memorable Remembrance Day in the West Boundary.