Debbie Froese would have approved.
That from her husband of 41 years and Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese when explaining his family’s decision to donate a flagpole to the Murrayville cenotaph in time for this year’s Remembrance Day services.
Debbie passed away in January, after a lengthy battle with cancer, and she was interred at Murrayville cemetery.
“My family and I were contemplating placing a bench at the cemetery in her memory,” Jack told the Advance Times.
Then, it was brought to his attention that Murrayville’s was the only cenotaph in Langley that was not accompanied by a flagpole.
Froese thought it a nice way to honour his late wife and the mother of their three children.
“Debbie and I attended the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge in France in 2017. Debbie’s grandfather fought and was wounded in that battle on April 9, 1917 and she often spoke of how proud she was of him,” Jack recounted.
“We want to remember those men and women from Langley and all of Canada who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country… I felt that this would be a good way to be part of something significant, and Debbie would approve,” said Froese, who will be part of the closed Remembrance Day service at the Murrayville cemetery on Wednesday, Nov. 11.
Like many services this Remembrance Day, Murrayville’s ceremony is not open to the public.
Murrayville will once again pause to remember the sacrifices made so people today may live in peace and freedom, said committee member Grace Muller.
But this year, due to pandemic crowd restrictions, the ceremony will be limited to only 40 special guests invited to participate in the actual day-of-events.
It will be a small gathering with a “very small parade,” said committee chair Rosemary Genberg.
“Our bubble is 40 people.”
“It’s definitely a different year with Remembrance Day,” chimed in Muller. “We need to practise safety at home – remembering that there was little safety in the war trenches.”
The public is not permitted, but can watch the 2020 ceremonies from the comfort of home.
The service will be livestreamed on the group’s website at www.MurrayvilleRemembranceDay.ca.
It starts at 10:25 a.m. on Nov. 11, kicking off with a 14-minute video made to preface the ceremony, before they go live.
“If we mess up, you’re going to see it,” Muller smiled.
“The ceremony itself will not change. Only the audience, and how and where they view it, will change,” she added.
The turnout at the Murrayville cemetery in recent years has skyrocketed.
“It blows our minds how this has grown,” she said, noting that RCMP estimated more than 1,500 people attended last year’s service, which was only the third public service ever held in Murrayville.
For those wishing to have one of the designated participants lay a wreath on their behalf during Wednesday’s ceremony, they can drop it off at the cemetery the day ahead – on Tuesday, Nov. 10, between 2 and 4 p.m.
Alternatively, people can come by the cemetery after noon on Nov. 11 for their own private time of reflection and/or wreath laying at the cenotaph, Muller said, encouraging people to appreciate the new flagpole erected next to the cenotaph.
A dedication plaque has not yet been added to the flagpole, but Froese said it will be placed in the near future. In the meantime, he’s pleased the pole could be purchased and erected in time for Wednesday’s Remembrance Day services.