Thousands of people gathered at the corner of Belleville and Government streets and around the cenotaph at the B.C. Legislature today to pay their respects to those lost in war, those who survived and others who have or continue to serve in the military.
The annual Remembrance Day service here is the largest of the many memorial ceremonies held around the region on Nov. 11.
While the number of veterans of the Second World War is fast dwindling, some were on hand for the Saturday event downtown, their chests festooned with various service medals. While not all veterans of that war or others died in service, many have passed on since, but all provided inspiration for the individuals and families in attendance.
Guests at the service ranged from Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, to high-ranking naval officers and army reserve divisions; Silver Cross mother Sheila Fynes; Deputy Premier and Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James and Victoria-Swan Lake MLA and Education Minister Rob Fleming; Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, police Chief Const. Del Manak and Fire Chief Paul Bruce; Royal Canadian Legion officials, Port Angeles Mayor Patrick Downie, and representatives from other veterans associations, including from Bremerton, Wash.
In his prayer, military chaplain Andrew Gates asked, “When are we going to say enough already? Enough violence, enough bloodshed, enough tears, enough hatred, enough fear, just plain enough.”
He asked for protection for “those who would protect us,” from members of the armed forces to emergency responders, and for safe keeping for survivors of terror attacks, and “the guy who sits at the corner hoping that someone will give him something, something what he needs to help survive another day.”
After the official part of the service ended, the line was long of people pinning their poppies on wreaths laid on the cenotaph, with one family creatively honouring two grandfathers. The New Zealand servicemen were memorialized with homemade poppy frames that included their photographs, a short description of their rank and division and a heartfelt message of remembrance.