Heading into Remembrance Day, we had a number of guests drop by our morning show studios to talk about their respective community's Remembrance Day services. In each interview we also spent time talking about what Remembrance Day means to each of them.
High school teacher Mark Wilson has helped organize Remembrance Day services in Winkler over the past nine years or so. In that time, they've always had a solid turnout.
"When we started, we were doing the services in the GVC (Garden Valley Collegiate) gym. The town very graciously has volunteered services of P.W. Enns Auditorium, which is really nice, a very nice facility. We’ve found the crowds have remained fairly solid throughout, gaining if anything. I think the most we've seen is probably around 450, 500."
Wilson's been working with the committee since 2003 when he was asked to join by Harvey Friesen, a veteran of World War II.
"That World War II vet generation is fading, but there is another whole new generation of veterans out there. They don't tend to take maybe the same form we've seen in the past, with the grey pants and the blue blazer and all that. That's very important for sure, but the new generation maybe has taken a little bit of a different path. But their sacrifice is no less valuable."
Having experienced the battlefield first hand, Wilson's perspective on Remembrance Day comes as no surprise.
"I think Remembrance Day is extremely important. It's an opportunity to reflect and remember the sacrifices of over 100,000 Canadians who have died for our country. For me personally, I was in Afghanistan in 2007. While I was there, 27 Canadians died. I think sometimes of those guys. In 2017 I had a chance to go to Iraq as well when we were liberating Mosul. There's obviously a very real human cost to that. So that's the sort of thing that goes through my mind on Remembrance Day."
For a community such as Winkler, this type of service is unique said Wilson.
"Obviously, our community has pacifist roots. If you go downtown to the Bethel Heritage Park, the big fountain in the middle. You have conscientious objectors on one side and veterans on the other with the Cenotaph, right? The fountain is there to symbolize reconciliation between those two sides. And I think our Remembrance Day service is a part of that."
Winkler's Remembrance Day service takes place this morning at 10:45 in P.W. Enns Concert Hall. Doors open at 10:00 am.
Morden Legion will commemorate Remembrance Day today with its annual ceremony this morning at the Access Event Centre.
Jason Evert, the Legion's second vice president and treasurer, has a personal connection to this annual commemoration.
"My grandfather served in World War II in the U.S. Navy. He was a Damage Control man and he was in battle. He was in Pearl Harbor, he was at Iwo Jima, he was in a lot of major battles. And I will say, growing up I didn't know a lot about that. Of course, he didn't talk about it much, and it wasn't something we talked about much as a family. But I've done a bit more to educate myself in the last few years. And it's really incredible to listen and learn about what occurred back then, the stories and the resilience of people and the willingness that they had to go and fight and serve. It's really been an excellent experience for me to get to learn more about that."
This annual observance is about more than simply revisiting the events of wartime said Evert.
"It's definitely right in the name, it is 'to remember.' But it's not just to remember what occurred. The human cost of war is incredible. I think the further away we get from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, things like that, we kind of forget. This is that yearly time to remember what that was, and what the cost of our freedom and peace is. Especially as we see things in the world happening now, we want people to remember what's happened before."
Doors at the Access Event Centre in Morden open this morning at 9:30 with the ceremony slated to begin at 10:45.
Meanwhile, this weekend's Made in Manitoba features Oak Bluff's Barbara Joy as we take time to pause and reflect during a Remembrance Day special. The singer-songwriter's most recent album "Seasons" includes several songs inspired by November 11th, and the importance of Remembrance Day.
"We are just so privileged in this country, the peace that we have," said Joy when asked why she wrote the songs "Remembrance Day" and "Peace this Remembrance Day". "Others have gone before us in order for us to experience this peaceful country and the safety here. It's a continuing ongoing thing, continuing to keep our country safe and peaceful."
And her thoughts on today?
"Put your poppy on and be thankful, and also remember those families that are missing their loved ones, or they came back from the war with different injuries," she shared for the program. "It is really, really important we continue to remember the people, here, who made our country peaceful and safe, and continue to."
You can listen to some of the responses to the question "What does remembrance day mean to you?" below.
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