Over 175 Bella Coola Valley residents observed the sacrifice of veterans at the Legion and Augsburg Church in Hagensborg on the morning of November 11th, 2012.
Maury Tyre marshalled the parade, which assembled at the legion and marched to the cenotaph. Alastair Anderson led the parade march, filling the air with classic sound of the bagpipes, followed by the Royal Canadian Legion Colour Party, veterans and legion members, Rangers, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Junior Rangers and guests.
Legion president Ron Richards welcomed everyone and Reverend Dave Stephens officiated the service.
John Morton, legion service officer, commented, “Stephens is a retired United Church minister, from Royston, and this is the fourth time he has served as an interim minister here and is the acting chaplain for the legion.”
Stephens spoke of his experience as a seven-year-old when World War II ended, of his five uncles who served (two at Dieppe), and of his subsequent return to many of the European war sites, including Auschwitz. Lois Casperson was the pianist for the service. In addition to playing two special items, Casperson paid tribute to Verna Mikkelson, who had provided the Remembrance Day music for many years.
Morton recounted the contributions made by local veterans, such as Al Purkiss, Bob Draney, Floyd Mecham, and Ron Mayo.
“Our old friend Ron Mayo passed away in February at the age of 91. Mayo served with distinction in the British army throughout WWII and came to Bella Coola in 1986,” said Morton. “We knew him as an exceptional wildlife photographer, but he obtained special permission to have his camera throughout his wartime service. Mayo’s photos provide a remarkable record of the ‘everyday’ life of soldiers at war.”
Morton continued, “Clarence Hall, WWII veteran, was a young American serviceman and became a prisoner of war. Ed Falch was a member of the Danish underground resistance and was captured while attempting to sabotage a German warship.”
If you thought military sacrifices were far in the past, Morton reminded us all of a local connection to the current efforts of our Canadian Military.
“Earlier this year, Master Cpl. Gilles-Remi Mikkelson received the Medal of Military Valour for his bravery during his 2009 service in Afghanistan,” said Morton.
A number of wreaths were laid at the cenotaph to conclude the observance. Currently, there are 57,352 military families in the Canadian Forces. According to the Department of National Defense, there are 64,262 children under the age of 18 who have a parent in the military.
Every year, Remembrance Day is observed on the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month to remember the sacrifices people in the military have given, lest we forget.