This year marks a century since World War I ended
By Katie Czenczek, News Editor
This Remembrance Day, hundreds stood outside of New Westminster City Hall to honour the lives of those lost in battle.
On an unusually sunny November morning, people of various ages and backgrounds attended the Remembrance Day ceremony in New Westminster. The ceremony commenced at 10:30 am, with Mayor Jonathan Coté as the main speaker at the event. The theme for this year specifically honoured the Merchant Marine—Canadians who served aboard merchant ships—in the First World War.
This year’s Remembrance Day held a special importance because it has been 100 years since the First World War ended on November 11, 1918. Ultimately, that is how the holiday came to be in the first place—the idea was to have Remembrance Day act as a reminder of the tragedy that war brings, in order to prevent future wars. Unfortunately, only two decades later the Second World War began, which led to an entire generation of trauma that continues to affect people to this day. An estimated 16 million people died in World War I. Over 1,400 of those who gave their lives were from the Royal Westminster Regiment, according to the New West Record.
Robert MacNevin, an attendee at the ceremony, said in an interview with the Other Press that he has personal ties to the Canadian Army.
“My grandfather fought in World War I and my father in World War II,” he said. “They didn’t make it home, but my uncle did. He died this year at 97 years old and had been going to these ceremonies every year. It’s important to [my wife and I] to honour them.”
Dogfighter planes from the Royal Canadian Air Force flew overhead City Hall. They flew in fours and were replicas of the planes used in the First and Second World Wars. These demonstrations took place throughout the ceremony and at one point occurred just as trumpeters played “Last Post/Rouse.” Speeches about the Merchant Marine were interspersed with songs from New West’s own army bands, which included a bagpipe performance.
There was also a heavy security and police presence at the ceremony, with officers carrying rifles on top of nearby skyscrapers. The final song played was “God Save the Queen” before various members of the Canadian Military marched on Royal Avenue. Once the speeches and songs were over, community members from New Westminster laid wreaths at the foot of the cenotaph and people lined up to attach their poppies onto white crosses to honour those who died.
MacNevin said that he was very impressed with the ceremony.
“We just moved here from Ottawa, and this was the best ceremony we’ve been to since I went to the Cenotaph as a kid,” he said. “I know it’s a sunny day and all, but there was a big turnout and it’s nice to see people still paying their respects.”