It was standing room only at Prince Albert’s Remembrance Day ceremony, as the community joined Canadians across the country to reflect on the sacrifices made by many for the freedoms we have today.
An orchestra’s harmonics rang out, prayers were said, and gun salutes echoed inside the Prince Albert Armoury Saturday, a building ripe with military history. Each at the event had their own reason for attendance. Some were current soldiers and veterans, others, the families of military personnel, while most were everyday citizens simply partaking in a passionate show of patriotism.
For Cpl. Marie Mathers, who has deep ties to the military — she served with the tank corp, her husband fought overseas and other family members are reservists — today was “a very sad day."
“You want to cry,” the 85-year-old said while holding back tears. “I am fortunate my husband came back, but I could have been one of those widows.”
Mathers was one of the dozens who laid wreaths at the foot of the stage in honour of those who lost their lives or passed on.
But what did bring her sparse joy on an otherwise sombre day was to see hundreds continue to turn out in droves to pay their respects. To see young people and immigrants sprinkled in the crowd was of particular significance to Mathers.
“They are coming more and more,” she said. “Them and the immigrants, they are opening the light."
In 2017, special attention is being shed on many iconic battles Canadians engaged in during the First and Second World Wars.
This year marks 75 years since the Dieppe Raid in the Second World War. The country is also remembering the lives lost 100 years ago during the Battle of Passchendaele, which ended Nov. 10, 1917. Over 4,000 Canadians were killed and 12,000 wounded in the fight.
Earlier this year, the country marked one century since the Battle of Vimy Ridge. It was April 9, 1917 — Easter Monday at the time — when all four Canadian divisions fought side-by-side for the first time and paraded into a hail of snow, sleet, bullets and bombs to capture the ridge. The four-day battle resulted in over 10,000 Canadians injured or killed.
Mathers has a personal connection to the Vimy fight, as her great-great nephew was part of the battle though he fell victim to injury in the conquest and died shortly after returning home from his injuries.
Commemorating these alongside more recent conflicts while celebrating Canada 150 brought added meaning to this year's ceremonies for Mathers.
“It is a time that you can really put together all these things that have been running out,” she said.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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