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Bow Valley Legions ready to return to normal Remembrance Day services

“All those folks during the First World War, Second World War and Korea, and even the later conflicts like Bosnia and Afghanistan, we forget about our soldiers, some of whom made the supreme sacrifice.”
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Korean War veteran Santa Luica salters the cenotaph after laying a wreath during the Remembrance Day events in Banff in a previous Remembrance Day. RMO FILE PHOTO

BOW VALLEY – For the past two years, Canadians have come to remember those who served Canada in the Armed Forces but the ceremonies were not quite the same due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, events are returning to normal and both the Canmore and Banff Legions are ready to remember veterans and those who didn’t return home in a more traditional Remembrance Day ceremony.

“In 2020, we had a small outdoor ceremony. Last year, we had a small outdoor ceremony,” said Chris Vincent, Sgt. At Arms for the Canmore Legion. “This year it is bigger and more normal with a parade and all our veterans out and those who served. This is the first Remembrance Day that the legion is open without any restrictions.”

The Canmore Legion will begin its ceremony at about 10:40 a.m. at the Legion cenotaph. There will be a parade of veterans and Canadian Forces personnel, an Act of Remembrance, some words from dignitaries and the laying of wreaths.

“After that wraps up, everyone is invited to the Legion,” Vincent said. “This year, we are raising funds for the Veteran’s Food Bank. On the way to the Legion, people can make a cash donation or a non-perishable food item.”

After the ceremony, the colour parties that carry the flags for the legion will go to the Canmore Cemetery to the fields of honour where veterans are buried, where another small ceremony will be conducted. 

For Vincent, returning to normal for the Remembrance Day ceremony is important to ensure the veterans and those who did not return home are remembered properly.

“It is multi-generational. There are a lot of people who remember their grandparents or great grandparents who served,” Vincent said. “There is also a surprising number of veterans in the Bow Valley who did serve and came home, but have operational injuries and struggle with PTSD. It is important to remember all those who did serve.”

It is a similar story for the Banff Legion, with standard services ready to resume. There will be a parade at 10:15 a.m. outside the Legion to begin the ceremonies.

“We line up at the Legion, get all together and then we march down to the elementary school and we have a service in there,” said Bruce McTrowe, poppy campaign volunteer. “Then we leave there and go back to the Legion, lay our wreathes and everything in front of the cenotaph.”

With severely reduced services the past two years, McTrowe expects the 2022 Remembrance Day service to be a return to form.

“We have been shut down for the past couple of years,” McTrowe said. “We are anticipating a bigger crowd this year so it will be interesting to see what happens.”

McTrowe sees the importance of Remembrance Day as a day to not only remember those who fought for their country, but also to help educate the younger generation about the sacrifices made.

“People do forget and I think the younger generation, they don’t really have a great handle on what happened in the past,” McTrowe said. “It is important to remember those who served.”

McTrowe has a personal attachment to the day as well, as his father served with the Royal Canadian Air Force in the war.

“All those folks during the First World War, Second World War and Korea, and even the later conflicts like Bosnia and Afghanistan, we forget about our soldiers, some of whom made the supreme sacrifice.”

The evening before the ceremony at the Legion, there will be a candlelight drive through the Old Banff Cemetery where jars with candles in them will be lit and flags will be placed on graves. The candlelight drive will be held from sundown to 9 p.m.

“We have in Banff, in the old and new cemeteries, there are 293 veterans buried in those cemeteries.”