Over 200 people in Vanderhoof gathered on Nov. 11 to remember together those who have died on duty for Canada, lest we forget.
The annual Remembrance Day service began at Nechako Valley Secondary’s auditorium with prayers led by Vanderhoof RCMP chaplain and pastor Shaun Wick.
Vanderhoof Pathfinders then shared the poem “Taking a Stand” written by Territorial Army soldier John Bailey in 2009, when a member of his unit was killed along with four others by a rogue Afghan policeman.
“I hope you are hopeful like me/That we’ll soon bring an end to wars/So you’ll have to stand no more with me/And mourning families no different from yours,” Bailey wrote. “‘Til then be thankful you can stand with me/Thinking of those who now cannot/For standing here today with me/At least we show they’re not forgot.”
Nechako Valley Secondary’s choir, conducted by band teacher Russell Larden and accompanied by pianist Kjerstina Crossley, sung “In Flanders Fields”, written by John McCrae at the battlefront of Yvres, Belgium, in 1915.
Sgt. Michael Bleeker of the 899 Vanderhoof Air Cadet squadron next read to the audience “The Final Inspection” by Sgt. Joshua Helterbran, an American soldier who was receiving medical treatment in Oklahoma after deployment in Iraq when the words came to him.
“The soldier stood and faced God,/Which must always come to pass,/He hoped his shoes were shining,/Just as brightly as his brass,/‘Step forward now, you soldier,/How shall I deal with you?/Have you always turned the other cheek?/To My Church have you been true?’” he wrote.
“The soldier squared his shoulders and/said, ‘No, Lord, I guess I ain’t,/Because those of us who carry guns,/Can’t always be a saint./I’ve had to work most Sundays,/And at times my talk was tough,/And sometimes I’ve been violent, /Because the world is awfully rough.”
Hymns “Abide With Me” and “Amazing Grace” were then performed by local musicians Valerie Pagdin and Swan Kiezebrink, and Lt. Amy Somers, commanding officer of the 899 Vanderhoof Air Cadet squadron, recognized wreaths laid by local businesses and families.
Led by parade marshall LCol Shawn Burtenshaw (retd), local uniformed service groups in ceremonial dress, including veterans, Canadian Rangers, RCMP, firefighters, paramedics, and cadets then paraded down Victoria Street to Ferland Park’s cenotaph for a memorial service.
CORRECTION: A previous version of the story reported Capt. Laura Brittain as the emcee of the Remembrance Day service.