Lest We Forget: Edmontonians take part in Remembrance Day ceremonies across city
EDMONTON -- Edmontonians gathered Monday to honour those who have served Canada and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thousands met at the University of Alberta's Butterdome for the city's largest Remembrance Day event.
An indoor procession was followed by the lighting of the peace torch, a bugle call of The Last Post and the customary two minutes of silence.
John McCrae's famous poem In Flanders Field was read and several wreaths were laid as an act of remembrance.
"We are blessed with an Alberta and a Canada that is safe, welcoming and full of opportunity for every single citizen," Alberta Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell told the sizeable crowd.
"We would be living in a very different country if not for the devotion of the Canadians in uniform."
In a powerful moment, Mitchell asked veterans and their families to stand and be recognized.
For 96-year-old Second World War veteran Jim Robinson, it's a day of remembering both the bad times and the good.
"You don't dwell on it, I'm sure. You'd go nuts if you did," said Robinson, who spent five years in the navy listening for German submarines.
"When I think of the Second World War, I think of time spent ashore for example. I recall being in New York City and going to two different big bands…and it was something I can remember, because I love music. That's the sort of thing I like to remember."
He said he appreciated seeing the large turnout at the Butterdome ceremony, particularly younger Canadians.
"It's just an education, and I'm just delighted to see so many young people come and be aware of what has passed, and please don't let it happen again," he said.
There were also events at Edmonton City Hall, Beverly Memorial Cenotaph, the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military Museum and at several Royal Canadian Legion branches around the city. A 21-gun salute was held on the Alberta Legislature grounds.
It was standing room only at City Hall, where the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Band played Second World War-era songs. Some in attendance shared stories of how they had personally been affected by war.
"I lost a father and a stepfather in the wars. I remember very much the comrades I've lost," said Peter Newton, who travelled from Kelowna to visit with his grandson. "Anybody who's worn a uniform should always come to these ceremonies. So many good people died for us to have the freedoms we have and it's a special day, for sure."
Members of the Canadian women's basketball team, training in the city for 10 days, also took part in a ceremony at City Hall.
"I think it's really important to be able to come out here and show our support and give thanks for everything they've done for us and continue to do for us," said Kim Gaucher. "There's much bigger things than basketball and this is a time when we can show that."
A poll released on Remembrance Day suggested that Albertans are the most active participants in Remembrance Day ceremonies, with more than half of respondents saying they planned to attend a service.
The survey also found Albertans were the most likely to wear a poppy.
This year, Remembrance Day marked exactly 101 years since the end of the First World War.