Hundreds of people, from elderly veterans down to children carried by their parents, came to Fort Langley’s cenotaph Friday for the return of full in-person Remembrance Day ceremonies.
The service of remembrance included hymns and prayers, readings of poems including In Flander’s Fields and An Honoured Son, the playing of The Last Post, and an honour song by members of the Kwantlen First Nation leadership and drummers.
Master of ceremonies Andy Schildhorn also listed the names of 10 veterans who have passed away since last Remembrance Day.
“As year follows year, we assemble here to honour those heroic men and women who made the supreme sacrifice to ensure that we, who survive, and generations to come, might live in peace and be free to pursue, within the bounds of decency, law and order, a way of life each one of us may choose,” Schildhorn said.
Some senior veterans from the Second World War were still in attendance, including Rod McKerlich, a Royal Canadian Navy veteran who served on the convoys that crossed the Atlantic to Great Britain.
“When you’re 99, you get a blanket,” he quipped about the blankets handed out to seniors and vets.
He said he was 21 when he made his last crossing, after three years of service.
“He’s going to be 100 in February,” said his son, Rick McKerlich.
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Some of those who were in attendance had not served in uniform, but had other powerful reasons for marking Remembrance Day.
“My whole family served,” said Barrie Geosits, with multiple relatives in the military over the decades.
She has a relative who had recently been deployed to Latvia with the Canadian Armed Forces, part of recent NATO missions in that area.
If not for the Canadian military, Adriana Boom might never have come to Canada.
Born in the Netherlands, she was a young girl when her town of Hoek van Holland (meaning Hook of Holland) was overrun by the Nazis and occupied during the Second World War.
“We were liberated by the Canadian soldiers,” she remembered. “I remember all the young, beautiful Canadian soldiers. I was a teenager then.”
“We were so happy,” she said of the liberation. “It’s a feeling, when you’re free, you just can’t explain it.”
In 1952, with Europe still poor after the war, her family decided to emigrate.
“We’d met the Canadians – we had to come to Canada,” Boom said.
At the end of the ceremony, Rev. Karen Saunders gave a benediction.
“Remember the love and the sacrifice we have celebrated today,” she said.
The service involved members of the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP and Township firefighters, Scouts and Guides, local cadet groups, and dignitaries from the Township of Langley, the Kwantlen First Nation, and the Langley School District.
The event was organized by the Fort Langley Lions Club and the Fort Langley Remembrance Day Committee.
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