Remembrance in pandemic

A hush has fallen over plans for Remembrance Day. As Nov. 11 draws near, the war on COVID-19 is eclipsing the usual ceremonies. For the first time in 102 years community services are stopped. This is due to the limitations on gatherings because of Manitoba’s level Orange Restrictions.

Community members will largely stay home, soldiers from CFB Shilo won’t be represented and special speakers will not visit communities. However, Remembrance will continue in different ways.

article continues below

Schools can continue to use Remembrance Day material to focus on this vital piece of history and to recognize military personnel from Canada deployed in Peace Keeping throughout the world. Virden Junior High, for example, has plans to broadcast a guest speaker, Virden’s John Fefchak (CWO Retired), to the classrooms.

The yearly tribute in the Aud Theatre cannot happen, however, Padre Matt Koovisk for Virden’s Royal Canadian Legion No. 8 has devised a virtual Remembrance service.

He says, “This year’s service will be a very, very simple one, with only a livestream, which you can access with via Facebook or via telephone. I’m keeping it simple because we can only have up to five people in the Legion Hall.”

The cenotaph from the Aud Theatre will be transported to the Legion Hall for the ceremony that will include the Last Post, Two Minutes silence, Reveille, the Act of Remembrance, followed by the laying of one wreath at the cenotaph (from the Aud).

Virden Legion also invites people to take part in two-minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on your doorstep this year.

Elkhorn has no plans for a public service, Kenton, Oak Lake and Reston had no information about their Remembrance services.

However, the cenotaphs stand in parks all across our province. People are free to pay respects individually or as a family (public/private gatherings are limited to five beyond a household group).

Remembrance Day evolved out of Armistice Day, first observed on the grounds of Buckingham Palace. Later, during the Second World War, throughout the British Commonwealth this became Remembrance Day, while the USA called it Veterans Day.

Throughout Veterans Week, Nov. 5 – 11. the theme is the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. On the website you will find gripping accounts of key milestones and battles that led to the conclusion of the major conflict, an important part of Canada’s rich military history. https://www.veterans.gc.ca/

For example, there’s the Battle of the Atlantic. Frank Curry of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) kept a diary as he travelled aboard a corvette in 1941, during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Throughout the Remembrance Day section of this paper, there are accounts of local heroes, of incredible bravery and sacrifice to be remembered and to pass along to future generations.

© Virden Empire-Advance