The Virden Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion welcomed the community back to the Auditorium Theatre for The Act of Remembrance on November 11.
Padre, Rev. Fr. Matt Koovisk reflected on the impact that COVID-19 has had on the observance of Remembrance Day, which was scaled back locally for the second straight year. The Virden Collegiate Concert Band, traditionally assembled en masse on the Aud stage, recorded their music in advance, while trumpeter Michelle Gervin was on hand to play The Last Post and Reveille.
Koovisk spoke of the significance of remembering those who served in the two world wars, the Korean conflict, Afghanistan and other peacekeeping missions throughout the world in person, rather than through the use of technology.
"I want to welcome you back to your own Aud Theatre," he said. "As you are probably aware, we weren't able to gather last year due to the pandemic that beset us on every side. It is so good to be back in this place. We remember and give thanks for all who have served and are presently serving but of course we especially honour those who paid the supreme sacrifice."
Koovisk, who is in his fifth year as Padre, and his assistant, Rev. Tim Challen, settled on a simple service during the height of the pandemic in 2020, which was streamed from St. Mary’s Anglican Church.
"The Town if Virden has always taken Remembrance Day incredibly seriously,” he said. “And for many, it’s actually one of the highlights of the year. When all of that was ripped away from us last year, many people mourned, including me. The livestream video, in all of its amateur glory, received over 1000 views on Facebook. Even in our separation, Virden was able to come together and remember those who have sacrificed so much for us. It is my very sincere hope that a lot of the traditions that Virden is known for will come back for next year."
At the Aud, Virden Mayor Murray Wright, with the assistance of Master Warrant Officer Darryl Gould, placed a wreath on behalf of the citizens of the community. A second one was laid by Capt. Ryan Little and Sgt. Ryan Dutchuk on behalf of C Battery, 1st Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. The contingent, based at CFB Shilo, braved less-than-ideal travel conditions to be present for the service.
Gould, the Depot Sgt. Major at CFB Dundurn, Sask., was first introduced to Virden in 1998 on a cadet exchange trip where through his billets he learned what it meant to live on a farm. More recently, he has been a Canadian Forces Volunteer with the #2528 Manitoba Dragoons Cadet Corps. In his address, he urged the community to regularly reflect on the efforts of our Canadian Armed Forces members both past and present.
“Canada's military history is full of inspiring stories of courage,” he said. “Many of its details are painful to recount but we must learn from the lessons of our past, and we must not forget the people who battled tyranny and injustice to build a better future for all of us. Never forget their sacrifices in the name of peace and freedom…sacrifices that made Canada the country it is today. Right now, the Canadian Forces members are working on the ground, in the air and at sea to protect and defend our country and support our allies across the globe. Here at home we're honored to help out communities big and small across the country, whether it's a natural disaster, global pandemic or a threat to our Arctic. As members of the Canadian Armed Forces, we are ready to answer the call.”