So, I saw an item in the Ottawa Citizen a few days ago that said, that the Royal Canadian Legion, “which is responsible for organizing the national ceremony, has vastly scaled down this year’s service. Parades are out. The colour party is reduced to just the Canadian Flag, the Legion Flag, the Union Jack, Red Ensign and the flags of NATO and the United Nations. Participants will be masked and physically distanced. While armed sentries will be posted at the four corners of the cenotaph, along with one nursing sister, the wreaths will be pre-placed … [and] … Roads will be closed around the site to allow for proper distancing and the public will be encouraged to watch the event on TV or live-streamed on the internet. Past Remembrance Day crowds in Ottawa have topped 30,000. This year, health regulations limit outdoor gatherings to 100.“
Good; and I encourage the Legion to go even farther:
- cancel the colour party entirely … there was enough flag waving in 1899, 1914, 1939 and all during my lifetime;
- cancel ALL prayers and speeches ~ nothing is ever needed except the short, simple ‘Act of Remembrance;’
- limit participants to ~
- the Governor General and the Silver Cross Mother (or widow or father, etc),
- one Minister, preferably a veteran, representing the Government of Canada and one MP, also preferably a veteran, representing the Parliament of Canada,
- one admiral or general, one veteran and one young person, representing, respectively the serving military, the veterans and the young people of Canada who will be called upon to fight and die in the future. I use the word “will” intentionally; I’m certain of it,
- one naval or military attaché representing all the other countries,
- one trumpeter/bugler and one piper,
- a few people to make announcements, to read the Act of Remembrance recite In Flanders Fields if necessary (I know it is a traditional part of our, Canadian, Remembrance Day services) and play recorded anthems, etc, and
- one saluting troop ~ away from the actual site ~ to fire the gun salute after the two minutes of silence and while the very few official wreaths are laid. That matters ~ think about “Scarce heard amid the guns below” from John McCrae’s poem.
The whole service need not take more than 10 minutes and some elements ~ especially no parades, no flags and no prayers ~ should be used as a model for all future Remembrance Day services.
The Legion should reiterate its advice to Canadians to watch from home.
But, I will be there, not part of any official “gathering” and keeping my distance from almost everyone, to remember my father who was killed in action at sea on 6 February 1943 …
… and everyone who has lost a father or a daughter or son, or husband or wife, or a good friend, a comrade-in-arms, should be welcome and must be treated with respect by the authorities who will be trying to enforce good, sound public health regulations and guidelines because this is not just any other “holiday” … for some of us November 11th, Remembrance Day, has real meaning.