Volunteer Russell Townsend shares a name with his late uncle, a bomber tailgunner who died during the Second World War. Black Press photo Volunteer Russell Townsend shares a name with his late uncle, a bomber tailgunner who died during the Second World War. Black Press photo

VIDEO: Remembrance Day in Fort Langley

For one volunteer, it was personal

An estimated crowd of more than 5,000 people attended the Remembrance Day service at the historic Fort Langley cemetery, the largest memorial event in the Langleys, on Sunday.

The event marked 100 years to the day that the fighting ended on the western front, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

“It (the armistice that ended the First World War) is the basis of where world peace started,” said Andy Schildhorn, the chair of the Fort Langley Remembrance Day committee.”

“The idea was born then. Even though we have conflicts and wars today, I think the idea of world peace is gaining ground and that hopefully, one day, we won’t have a need for war.”

Historian and author Warren Sommer read out a list of 45 “men and boys from Langley known to have lost their lives during that horrendous conflict” in order from the oldest to the youngest confirmed age, ranging from 44 to 18.

For long-time Remembrance Day volunteer Russell Townsend, the event always brings back memories of the uncle he physically resembles, also named Russell Townsend, who was a tailgunner who died during the Second World War.

Growing up, he remembers his father Clarence and his grandmother Rudy getting a “little sad” around Remembrance Day.

“I remember my grandmother telling me how young he [my uncle] was,” Townsend said.

“We all get to stand here because of what these soldiers went through.”

Townsend, a former president of the Fort Langley Lions Club, is one of at least 10 Lions who helped put the event together this year.

He was pleased to see increased participation by young people.

“Every year more and more scouts show up,” he said.

“It’s good because they can go back into history”

READ MORE: Fort Langley ceremony honours fallen

Marilyn Gabriel, chief of the Kwantlen First Nation, spoke at the ceremony, saying it is important that young people remember the tragedy of war.

“How do you honour a lost loved one, especially a hero, a true warrior?” Gabriel said.

“You talk about them, you honour them by saying their names all the time. That is how you honour them so we never forget. You teach these little ones, we won’t be standing here doing this for our fallen heroes ever again.”

There was a new element at the Fort Langley event, an an act of peaceful recognition at the cenotaph by cadets who took up position at four points around the cenotaph before the ceremony began.



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

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