The skies should be clear tomorrow morning and the streets are going to be packed with people, all standing without speaking at 11 a.m. Just as in the many years past, that’s the exact time for the moment of silence, the point when we all pause to reflect on the sacrifices of members of the Canadian armed forces and of civilians in all armed conflicts since the First World War.
The procession will consist of a colour party carrying the flags plus members of the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment, veterans, cadets and a contingent of members from the Canadian Forces. The cadet band and the Big Rock Pipe Band will be playing.
The parade will start at the Royal Canadian Legion No. 273 on TachÄ‚Â© Street at about 10:40 a.m. It will then move down Sir Winston Churchill Avenue and then St. Anne Street where the marchers will stop in front of the cenotaph for the formal part of the annual event. After the crowd observes the two minutes of silence, various wreaths will be laid at the monument before the parade marches slowly back to the Legion, ending the ceremony.
The city will close these three roads for the duration of the procession in order to accommodate the service. Members of the public who wish to attend should arrive early and be prepared to have trouble with parking. Last year’s Remembrance Day service drew a crowd of several thousand, according to organizers with the Legion. It was the second largest ceremony in the metro Edmonton area, bested in attendance only by the massive gathering at the Butterdome.
Bill Dickson is the parade marshal again this year. The 72-year-old veteran of the 1974 Cyprus dispute explained that it’s not just a matter of tradition; it’s important for us to stop and think about war and what it means to live in a free country.
“To me, the date and whole concept of Remembrance Day goes back to my childhood. My grandfather was in the Boer War and the First World War. I can remember going to ceremonies with him. It’s always been with me. It’s important, significant,” he started. “When we compare the casualties that we have today to something like 65,000 [in one day] in the Second Battle of the Somme, it seems rather insignificant. It’s not, of course, but it’s hard for people of this generation, even for myself, to imagine that.”
He went on to say that keeping history alive is crucial not just to bring people closer to world peace, but also to help bridge gaps between generations. He retraced his grandfather’s steps on the sites of former battlefields at Vimy Ridge and Normandy.
“You still can’t grasp what that’s all about, not having been there when it really was happening. I think it’s very important for the youth of today to continue to see and hear about those stories and have the legacy of the soldiers to talk to.”