Across this country Canadians will pause to honour and remember our veterans and fallen soldiers, but this year is different because of the pandemic.
Public memorial services have been cancelled, with the Royal Canadian Legion and politicians asking Canadians to stay home and watch virtual services.
Veterans at the Barrie Legion are hosting an invite-only ceremony with a maximum of 50 people.
“Wreaths will be prelaid at the cenotaph at the Barrie Legion,” says Fern Taillefer, Poppy Chairman. “After the ceremony, the City of Barrie will transport them to the downtown cenotaph and lay them there for two days for the population to come and pay their respects and put the poppies on.”
Taillefer says a Silver Cross family from Perth will be the only ones laying a wreath at the legion cenotaph.
He admits putting a limit on the number of veterans who can attend today’s ceremony is a difficult.
Taillefer says there is a World War Two veteran who is determined to attend the legion, and if his health allows, Bill Snow will be there.
The 98-year-old from Barrie says he never misses a Remembrance Day ceremony.
Snow served with the 1st Canadian Radar Battery. His job was to spot targets for the artillery to strike.
Snow went overseas in his early 20s and saw action in a number of countries including England, France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.
He has been back to Europe several time to pay his respects to those Canadian soldiers who did not return home.
“The saddest thing I believe that I could think about is when you go to a cemetery and look at the stones or markers and see the names of Canadians. Boys from 17, 19, and 20, the average age in their early 20s like me to be left there.” says Snow. “The happiest thing is after the war ended and to get on a boat and know you were coming home.”
Snow has shared his war stories with local students, and he has travelled to the Netherlands to be a guest speaker at schools there, where Canada is given great respect for the role our soldiers played in liberating Holland from the Nazis.
But it’s the cemeteries in Europe of the fallen Canadian soldiers that Snow has the most difficulty talking about.
“When you see that row after row. Imagine what these guys could have done if they had come back and how they would have changed Canada.”
There will be a ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa at 11 a.m. Only about 100 people will be allowed to attend, mostly government representatives and necessary officials. Canadians can watch the service on the RCL’s own Facebook livestream.
Among this year’s highlights will be the presence of the 2020 National Silver Cross Mother Mrs. Deborah Sullivan from New Brunswick. She will lay a wreath on behalf of all mothers and families who have lost children in the line of service and in remembrance of her son, Lieutenant Navy Christopher Edward Saunders who died in 2004.