It was a brisk Thursday morning, but the Lac La Biche Legion Remembrance Day ceremony drew more than 200 residents to the lakeshore cenotaph for the November 11 event.
The outdoor ceremony — a long-standing tradition before events were moved indoors to the community Bold Center in 2013 — was revisited due to COVID-19 restrictions on indoor gatherings. Other COVID-mandated changes forced the absence of the Lac La Biche Army Cadet Corps, CFB Cold Lake 4Wing parade members, and the wreath laying procession by community members and groups.
Legion members, along with the RCMP and Lac La Biche County Protective Services Honour Guard did take part in the 2021 ceremony, which also marked the 100-year anniversary of the Poppy Fund.
"We honour what's best in all of us, the capacity to sacrifice ourselves for those we love"
— Lac La Biche County Mayor Paul Reutov
Despite the changes, the core events of the ceremony continued, including the reciting of the national anthem and the Flanders Field poem, the two minutes of silence, along with the lowering and raising of the flag as the bugle played. Although not lined up in parade formation this year, several local service groups like the Ladies Auxiliary, the Elks and the local scouts, were part of the crowd watching. A large contingent from the Portage College Voyageurs sports teams were also in the crowd.
The two-minutes of silence at 11 am was held as a light, cool wind blew the Canadian Flag as it lowered to the Eternal Flame on top of the Cenotaph.
Lac La Biche County Mayor Paul Reutov made a presentation during the ceremony. He said that although wartime efforts may seem like a world away or a long time in the past for many people, it is because of the sacrifices of the soldiers and the front-line personnel that we enjoy our freedoms.
"For most of us, especially here in Lac La Biche County, Alberta, wartime it seems like a distant memory or ancient history. It's something that happened long ago in far away places ... Even modern war seems to have little impact on our lives, the sacrifices of so many fade so quickly that freedom is often taken for granted," he said. "Our lives are only free and peaceful because of the sacrifices of brave Canadians and brave men and women across the world. They fought these conflicts so that peace can be enjoyed and seem normal, commonplace, instead of what it actually is — a very hard-won gift."VIDEO LINK: Lac La Biche Legion — THEY SHALL NOT GROW OLD
Reutov said residents, young and old, need to remember the sacrifices that were made, and that continue to be made to keep those freedoms.
"We should remember the sacrifices of the many people who gave up, and continue to give up their lives," he said, explaining that front-line personnel are not the only ones affected by conflict and sacrifice. "We should remember the sacrifices of friends that supported them, the families that supported them and the communities that they left behind."
That fight for peace and freedom, he said, is fought by all cultures and all people. It is a fight that bonds people.
"We should remember those who served were of all cultures, faiths and creeds. When it comes to fighting for freedom and peace, the differences that we imagine divide us end up meaning very little," he said, adding that need to remember those sacrifices must continue.
"We must continue these traditions, the marches, the trumpets, the silence, when we respect these traditions .. we honour what's best in all of us, the capacity to sacrifice ourselves for those we love," he said.