The Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch is going to mark the 100th anniversary since the end of the First World War during its annual Remembrance Day service on Nov. 11 at the Estevan Comprehensive School.
Due to the significance of the anniversary, and the possibility that there could be a larger crowd, the legion has moved everything into the school’s gymnasium. Traditionally the service has been at the school’s cafetorium, and the ensuing cenotaph ceremony has been at the school’s courtyard, with the assembled crowd watching from above while wreaths were laid at a makeshift cenotaph.
This year’s service will start at 10:30 a.m.
“We wanted to make it a little more special with the 100th anniversary,” said Estevan legion past-president Troy LeBlanc.
The service has usually attracted a very good crowd, and in the last few years, people have been standing at the back of the cafetorium.
Having the entire service under one roof should be beneficial, LeBlanc said. He noted a few people usually leave between the service and the cenotaph ceremony, while the crowd is shuffling towards the courtyard.
It should also be a slightly shorter ceremony, he said, because they won’t have an opening prayer or a moment of silence before the laying of wreaths at the cenotaph, nor will they be marching in and marching out dignitaries and colours twice.
To mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the legion will have a guest speaker instead of the multimedia presentation that they have had the last few years.
The speaker will be Captain Craig Bird from the No. 2901 Estevan PPCLI Army Cadets. Bird has conducted extensive research on Canada’s military history, including the First World War.
The multimedia presentation has shown photos of local residents who served in various combat and peacekeeping missions, with old-time music playing in the background.
At the end of the cenotaph ceremony, people will be invited to follow the procession of veterans and dignitaries, and drop off their poppies at the foot of the cenotaph.
After the process is finished, they can head for the exit.
“This is a part of the program that usually happens at most Remembrance Day services, but with our facility and the way we have it, we have not been able to do it for many years, other than those who would just like to do it after the service concluded,” said LeBlanc.
LeBlanc noted there is one other reason the service will be held at the gymnasium. The school is producing a musical this year, and with the multiple stages that are being set up, they couldn’t properly utilize the cafetorium for dignitary and veteran seating.
He said it’s too early to say whether this will be a permanent change. It will depend on how well the change goes over with the community.