Remembrance Day services in Ladysmith and Chemainus steeped in tradition

Tradition and ceremony meet when residents mark Remembrance Day in Ladysmith and Chemainus.

Tradition and ceremony meet on Nov. 11 when Ladysmith and Chemainus residents mark Remembrance Day.

In Ladysmith, there is a parade from the Royal Canadian Legion to the Cenotaph at 10:30 a.m., and there is a memorial service at the Cenotaph, beginning at 10:50 a.m.

The Remembrance program includes piper Andrew Gibson, the Community Choir, bugler Alfred Ladret, Padre Brian Wood, pianist Linda Crane and an Honour Guard by air cadets from Ladysmith Parallel Squadron 257.

The service includes the placing of poppies on the Cross of Remembrance, a moment of silence, the Last Post, the Lament, the Reveille, the Act of Remembrance, the Roll of Honour in which Seargant-At-Arms Darrel Byron calls out the names of all the veterans whose names are engraved on the Cenotaph, and the laying of wreaths.

At the Ladysmith Remembrance Day service, there are up to 43 wreaths, and the biggest wreath is one featuring the names of all the businesses that have donated to the Poppy Fund.

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 171 president Roy Empey feels Remembrance Day in Ladysmith has changed since the war in Afghanistan.

“The children come out like never before,” he said. “This [Afghanistan] is closer to them than World War I, World War II and Korea — they might have cousins or uncles in Afghanistan. It is changing, and I think it’s changing for the better because of the young children.”

After the ceremony, the old stories come out back at the Legion, according to Empey.

“It’s a sad time for an awful lot of people, but you come in here and you listen — a lot of people don’t want to talk about it,” he said. “We were telling stories not too long ago and talking about my dad and his cousins. It’s the horror of some things and some happy things.”

Besides the service on Remembrance Day, members of the Legion Colour Party go to Ladysmith Secondary School during the week (this year on Nov. 8), and the Colour Party and band visit Lodge on 4th and La Rosa Gardens.

The Legion also held a church parade on Nov. 4.

The Ladysmith Rotary Club, in co-operation with the Legion, is holding a Veteran’s Dinner Nov. 10 at Eagles Hall. The dinner includes a special Empty Chair ceremony, which honours a local individual who gave his or her life in service to their country.

In Chemainus, the memorial service starts at 10:50 a.m. at the Cenotaph. The service will include the Last Post, two minutes of silence, the Lament and Reveille, the Act of Remembrance, a prayer, a recitation of In Flanders Fields, the laying of wreaths and a blessing by Rev. Fran Darling, Branch 191’s Padre.

“The service, as always, is just a really nice service,” said Legion member Janet Mitchell, who has emceed the Remembrance Day service for the past two years. “I quite enjoy it. It’s very poignant for me to do this Remembrance Day ceremony.”

The Chemainus Secondary School Stage Band, directed by Verla Blogg, attends the service and plays O Canada and God Save the Queen. Music is also provided by Cowichan Pipes and Drums and by bugler Sandy Sudmant. Cadets from Ladysmith Parallel Squadron 257 form a guard around the Cenotaph.

“We always have the Brownies and Girl Guides, and last year, they walked up with the people laying the wreaths,” said Mitchell. “They were well appreciated, and the veterans who were there really enjoyed having the children there. We’ll be doing that again.”

Last year, more than 600 people attended the ceremony in Chemainus, according to Mitchell.

Mitchell says they have many wreaths, and the branch includes a business wreath that holds all the names of all the business that  donated to the Poppy Campaign.

“Last year, our donations for the Poppy Fund were around $12,000,” said Mitchell, who co-chairs Branch 191’s Poppy Campaign with Mike Beggs. “We don’t have a shopping mall you can sit at, so we rely on our businesses.”

After the service, the Legion Colour Party and participants march back to the branch, and there will be refreshments in the Legion Hall and the lounge. There will be entertainment in the lounge from 2-5 p.m.

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