One of the childhood traditions if you grew up in Canada is the annual school Remembrance Day ceremony. Some day right before the statutory holiday, class by class students march down to the gymnasium to sit in rows and watch the presentation.

I must admit, it took me until my teen years to feel connection with the ceremonies. The somberness always had an effect on me, but I struggled to relate to the scope and significance of the world wars. Perhaps I started to better understand the enormity of it all as I neared the age of those men and women who went over to serve.

As I reflected on that in preparation to write this piece, it reinforced the continued importance of our Remembrance Day ceremonies. As time moves on, and we grow less connected to the world wars, there is a danger that we lose our appreciation for the sacrifices, the origins and the horrors of these events. They remain valuable tools, lest we forget.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 254 is the main organizer of the Whitehorse Remembrance Day ceremony, but is supported by a number of partners who make it happen, according to Legion president Joseph Mewett.

“We have a lot of support,” said Mewett. “Lots of businesses buy a wreath from us to display in their store. The City also provides us the Canada Games Centre to hold the ceremony.”

However, while the ceremony is the key to the Remembrance Day, the most important funding tool for the Legion are poppy sales. Poppies are the major fundraiser for the year for the Legion and help them provide services to local veterans.

“The Legion provides support for veterans and their families,” Mewett said. “And you don’t have to be a Legion member to get support.”

Lending support isn’t always easy, according to Mewett. Many military people who have served don’t classify themselves veterans, because they think of veterans as those who fought in World War I, World War II or Korea.

“We found that they wouldn’t say they were a veteran if asked,” Mewett said. “I served in Afghanistan and Bosnia and for a long didn’t view myself as a veteran. We now ask, ‘Have you served?’ and have been telling Veterans’ Affairs about it.”

Currently, the Yukon Legion branch has approximately 400 members, of which more than 160 of them have served.

“The Legion is a second home, a second family,” Mewett said. “People come because it’s a place where you can get support from others who have been through the same thing. We understand and it’s almost impossible to relate if you haven’t been through it.”

Remembrance Day is now as much an opportunity to recognize all those men and women who have served and returned home. We owe them thanks.

That’s why we wear our poppies and hold our ceremonies, to support and remember. So on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, take a moment to reflect on Canada’s history and the Canadian women who have served, and continue to serve.

To them, I say thank you.


In Flanders Field
by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place: and in the sky

The larks still bravely singing fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved: and now we lie

In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe

To you, from failing hands, we throw

The torch: be yours to hold it high

If ye break faith with us who die,

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields


Remembrance Day Ceremonies across the Yukon

Dawson

Date: November 11

Time : 10:30 a.m.

Place: Robert Service School Gym

Reception: Danoja Zho Cultural Centre

After the ceremony, the Rangers and Junior Canadian Rangers will move the wreaths from the school to rest in honor at the Cenotaph. The public is welcome to attend.

Haines Junction

Date: November 11

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Location: St. Elias Convention Centre

Those attending are asked to by 10:45 p.m. Additional ceremonies will be observed at Soldier Summit 75 on the Alaska Highway following services at the convention centre. The public is welcome to attend.

Teslin

Date: November 11

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Location: Cenotaph at the town office

Those attending are asked to be seated by 10:45 p.m.

Watson Lake

Date: November 11

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Location: Watson Lake Recreation Centre

Those attending are asked to be seated by 10:45 p.m.

Whitehorse

Date: November 11

Time: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m

Location: Canada Games Centre

Doors open at 8:15 a.m. for those with mobility difficulties and 9 a.m. for the general public. Please be seated by 10:30 a.m.