An estimated crowd of 6,500 attended the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Record turnout at Fort Langley Remembrance Day service

Estimated crowd of 6,500 packed the site

Before the Remembrance Day service began at the Fort Langley cenotaph, Brian Elidoros paid his parents and grandparents a visit.

His father, Theodore Elidoros, was a veteran of the Second World War, an RCAF flying officer who piloted the giant Canso Catalina flying boats, and so was his mother, Frances Mary, a private who performed in the army shows.

So too was his grandfather, John Harry Bleakley, a lance corporal with the 107th Infantry, who served in the First World War until a poison gas attack by the enemy sent him home.

His grandmother, Cathrine Mary, was not a soldier but lost her brother in the fighting.

His parents and grandparents share a carved headstone in the Fort Langley military cemetery.

As he does every year, Brian Elidoros put up photos of his relatives and laid out his dad’s flight jacket, with military medals, on the headstone.

“It’s a little thing I can do for them,” he told the Langley Advance Times.

Formerly a Langley resident, for the last few years Elidoros has made the trip from his new home in Salmon Arm along with some family members, and his dog, Zoey, who waited patiently by the headstone while he arranged the photos and jacket just so.

“It’s a very, very proud moment to come down here,” Elidoros observed.

“They were great people, all of them. They served their country, [they] volunteered. Lots of their friends didn’t come back.”

At the service, a piper and colour party led a group of veterans, active members of the Canadian Armed Forces, clergy, RCMP, Air Cadets, firefighters, elected officials, Kwantlen First Nation elders, and Scouts and Guides to the cenotaph on Glover Road.

There was a flypast by members of the Fraser Blues formation flying team around the time two minutes of silence were observed.

Among the dignitaries who laid wreaths were Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese and local MLA Rich Coleman.

This year, according to a Langley RCMP rough estimate, about 6,500 people attended the service at the cenotaph, “significantly” up from the previous year, when an estimated 5,000 turned out, said RCMP Cpl. Craig van Herk.

“It was a wall of people,” van Herk commented.

Volunteer Russell Townsend observed that “you used to be able to see grass,” previously, while it was “all people” this year.

Among them, 94-year-old Willoughby resident Michael Holley, who is not inclined to say much about his Second World War experiences as a member of an RAF air-sea-rescue vessel, the crews that would rescue downed pilots from the channel at considerable risk of being attacked by German fighters.

He came back with four medals, that he never wore, and shrapnel in one arm that he shrugged off as the result of an “air raid accident.”

His son, Andre, said “he’s never worn them, ever. I don’t know why.”

He finally convinced his father to wear his medals this Nov. 11, even getting them professionally polished for the occasion.

“They came back on the Friday [before the Monday ceremony],” Andre related.

Remembrance Day organizers arranged to have a golf cart transport Holley and another older veteran to a reserved spot at the event. Applause rippled through the crowd as the vehicle passed.

READ MORE: VIDEO: One man’s quest to know Langley’s fallen soldiers

A serious three-year-old from Willoughby, Tavian Crouch, was in the first row of viewers, watching the event unfold.

His mother, Donna Hancock, explained that her son appears to understand the significance of the cenotaph, which he refers to as “the cross.”

“His uncle is in the army,” mom added.

Master of ceremonies Jonathan Meads informed the audience that it was now 20 years since veteran Gord Gillard revived Remembrance Day in Fort Langley.

“[Gillard] walked into the Fort Gallery upset that nothing was happening here,” Meads related.

“[Gallery owner] Brenda Alberts joined him for an impromptu service of two that set about the resurrection of the service we attend today. Both Gord and Brenda have passed, but their efforts live on.”

Meads’ scout troop once again led a clean-up of the veterans headstones a few days before the ceremony.

READ MORE: ‘These kids are jumping at the opportunity to help out in their community’

There were considerably more volunteers this year, he noted.

“We were done in two hours.”

More Remembrance Day photos can be viewed online.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Before the Remembrance Day service began at the Fort Langley cenotaph, Brian Elidoros paid his parents and grandparents a visit with his dog Zoey at his side. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Brian Elidoros set up photos of his parents, both military veterans at the Fort Langley cemetery before the Remembrance Day service began. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Ferdinand Bredenholler played the last post at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

A young flag bearer was among the honour guard at the at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

After the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service concluded, attendees placed their poppies on the cenotaph. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Three-year-old Tavian Croutch from Walnut Grove was an intent observer at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

For the first time since he won his medals in the second world war, Willoughby resident Michael Holley wore them at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

An estimated crowd of 6,500 attended the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Just Posted

Langley youth: school district hosts interagency forum to help kids

Key issues included substance use, disconnected youth, social media, and creating an ethic of care

PHOTOS: Langley councillor provides inside look of Aldergrove’s Alder Inn

Bedbugs and other marks of disrepair lead Eric Woodward to argue against its preservation

Dozen impaired drivers caught on first weekend of Langley RCMP CounterAttack

Police also rounded up speeders and unlicensed drivers

VIDEO: Giants fall 3-1 to Victoria in mid-week Island game

The major junior hockey team is back at home in Langley for a toy drive and Santa singalong Friday

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Carriageworks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Chilliwack mom gives back to neonatal unit with Christmas stocking drive

Ashley Durance is paying it forward to other families and their babies following daughter’s NICU stay

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Most Read