Doug Pirie Memorial Candlelight Ceremony

Our November cover salutes Remembrance Day and Pender’s local veterans. I doubt that any community does a better job of tastefully and sincerely “remembering.” In 2002 Doug Pirie, then President of the Pender Island Legion, was the driving force behind a plan to involve our local school children in a candle lighting ceremony to honour those local veterans buried in the Pender Island Cemetery.

Thursday, November 10th at 1:00pm at the Pender Island Cemetery the Pender Island school children will participate in what is now known as the Doug Pirie Memorial Candlelight Ceremony. The children come by bus to the Pender cemetery and go with a veteran to place a candle on one of the 125 plus crosses that mark the place of the veterans who served so proudly on behalf of all Canadians in war and peace. For many of the children it is there first exposure to Remembrance Day and at times can be very emotional as they come across a grandfather or uncle of their family and begin to recognize for themselves the sacrifices made. The candle placement is followed by a short service where the students learn about Remembrance Day and have an opportunity to hear stories first hand from Veterans or a Veteran’s family members. The public is welcome to attend this event. The event is both a learning experience and an opportunity participate. The event always ends back at the Legion with donuts and juice, thanks to the good folks at the Esquimalt Tim Horton’s who have been active supporters and participants for many years.

At 6 pm that same evening, candles on each cross will be lit and the public is invited to take a moment to pause and remember. By the time this unique remembrance is concluded it is cool and dark. Gazing across the cemetery at the red glow of the candles and listening to the lone piper in the background is a memorable experience.

The actual November 11 Pender Island Remembrance Day service at the Pender Island Legion is no less unique. No matter where else you have attended such a service, it was probably a larger community. On Pender you may well recognize your neighbour’s kid representing the island’s school children. You might golf with the now scrubbed and polished the politicians, or the bugler, one or more members of the colour guard, and certainly, members of our beloved Pender Island Pipe Band.

If you don’t know any of the official participants you are sure to know some of the people or pets standing next to you at the outdoor service. Pender Island Remembrance Day comes with a definite feeling of sharing and connection . . . connection to the community and to those being honoured.

Thanks to John Pender for the writing and research provided for this article - Mike Wiley

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