November 11 is the Time to Stop, to Remember, and to Say, "Thanks"
Once again it is time for all of us to remember. November 11 is set aside for just that purpose: to stop, to remember, and to say “thanks.” The ceremony at the cenotaph is usually well attended - outdoors, respectful, and uniquely Pender. After the ceremony, everyone moves indoors for the Remembrance Service, followed by a sing-along, comradery, and libations. However, due to COVID-19, this year will be different.
Those who march are our neighbours, colleagues, and friends. A speaker may live next door, or we play bridge with a piper; we golf or play tennis with one of the drummers; the boy or girl down the street is representing the school kids by laying a wreath. Some bring their well-mannered dogs (although ours has shown that she might not be quite crowd ready and certainly not bagpipe ready). Either way, it is all about remembering, and it is done with a quiet dignity - pure Pender.
In addition to the actual November 11 Service, the last school day before Remembrance Day is the candle placing ceremony at the Pender Island Public Cemetery. In the past, the Pender Island school students placed candles on th
e graves of all those who have served in the forces. If my memory serves me correctly, the veterans were there to escort the children to the graves and answer any questions the kids had. After the afternoon candle laying ceremony, the school kids went back to the Legion and were provided with food (donuts etc., donated for many years by a Tim Horton’s restaurant on Vancouver Island - very cool stuff)! That same evening, those candles were lit at the candle lighting ceremony. The evening portion of the event was accompanied by a lone piper. Unfortunately, this year because of COVID-19, the students will not be attending the candle placing ceremony. This year, the event will be performed by the Legion members and the candle lighting will carry on as usual at dusk. Also, the Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11 will be live streamed for public viewing, as there will not be the usual ceremony with the public attending.
Speaking of “people we know” as mentioned in the second paragraph, do you recognize anyone on the cover of the November issue? These are just a few of the Pender personalities in our community who are still with us and have served in the armed forces at some time in the past. (There are many other veterans/former members of the military on Pender - if you know who they are, consider saying “thank you.”) Based on a quick glance, I would say that for some, their service would be further in the past than others; and some of the baby-faced members most likely had their parents sign for them so they could join. You have a month to mull that one over and we will have answers in our December issue. Of course, you could sit in front of Tru Value and check out those coming, going, or handing out poppies. Sooner or later every Penderite goes through those doors. The only flaw in that strategy is that our Mystery Service Persons, by their very nature, are the types that care about their fellow Canadians and therefore will probably be wearing masks.
I would like to thank and acknowledge the assistance of certain Legion members for advising me of the various changes in the Pender Island Remembrance Day services dictated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. I also ask you to “remember” that when you buy a poppy, you are supporting our veterans and bursaries for our Pender Island graduates.