Wow, what an incredible day Remembrance 2014 turned out to be.
In a year when poppy sales broke records, emotions ran higher than usual. Vancouver drew massive crowds, when in Saskatoon, schools that were let out came together anyways to carry out their devoted traditions to commemorate a peaceful 100 years remembrance. In Ottawa, the National War Memorial was carpeted with bouqets, poppies, photos, poems, written tributes, stuffed animals, a can or two of beer, and a few battered hockey sticks. Typically, events across the country which expect 35,000 for the day swelled to over 50,000 in Vancouver, and over 150,000 in Ottawa. Brian Stewart noted that the turn out at the National War Memorial topped the numbers of the original 1939 event, recalling the 100,000 citizens who had come together to remember in that year. The Battlefield Tours team were to be found travelling with our Canadian veterans and families to join the congregation for the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate in Ieper Belgium. The turn out was much larger than expected, and the dedications made with the hundreds of poppies falling from the sky sparked overwhelming emotions for both our Canadian travellers, and ourselves, in an event like no other. I however, found myself commemorating the 100 years remembrance in a small community far away from home, smack dab in the middle of the praries of Canada. Far away from the grandoise memorials and dedications, here I was in the small blistering cold, wintery scene of Watson Saskatchewan. I had been invited by John and his wife Mary Sejevick, Veterans of the Second World War and proud and active members in their Legion today. They are proudly apart of the Watson Branch #272. Having only two surviving veterans of the Second World War, the entire town comes together every year to honour and commemorate a history that seems a million miles away. When invited, I wasn't too sure what to expect. From the sounds of the Sander family (John Sejevick has five grandchildren from just one of his daughters!) it was a tradition that the family had been apart of since John's safe return. On the day of Remembrance, I entered a room filled with murals, pictures, posters, and essays, lovingly created by the school children of Watson. With a filled to the brim auditorium, decorated legion members, and beautiful wreaths, generously donated by local businesses and families in the area, Father Darryl Millette began with his Invocation, a Poem for the Fallen, and the Names of the Fallen, those the town had loved and lost. This tradition, supported by stories shared, brought me to tears. Watson Saskatchewan did this every year, without fail, as an entire community, bringing back to life the people they have loved and lost, who had done so much in the name of our freedom. Slide shows, pictures, memories, and stories were shared. Our two minute silence was a moment with the community was a moment I didn't think I would ever feel without my own friends and family. I found the entire display warm, and welcoming, and extremely important, as I shared my own stories with that of the Legion council, friends and community.
It truly showed me that it doesn't matter where you were in the world on Tuesday, we were together, we were somber, and we took the time to be together in peace. With beloved friends and family, neighbours, and fellow Canadians congregated in incredible places around the world to commemorate. For the Battlefield Community, many traveled to Ottawa for the largest Remembrance Day Commemotation the National War Memorial has ever seen since it's christening in 1939.
I'm hearing incredible stories from all over about what Remembrance Day was like yesterday. It shows it doesn't matter where you were in the world, we were together, we were somber, and we took the time to be together in peace.
Here are some more Incredible Links to some Incredible Remembrance Day Events: http://ww1.canada.com
http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/photo-essay-remembrance-day-2014 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/remembrance-day-draws-huge-crowds-as-national-war-memorial-rededicated-1.2831009 http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/remembrance-day-ypres-the-city-that-never-forgets-1.2830842 http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Special%20Coverage/Remembrance%20Day/ID/2596886011/