Merritt’s own Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 96 has hosted an annual Remembrance Day ceremony for decades, with Legion members and the public alike planning to gather in respect and remembrance once again this year at the City’s cenotaph. The annual commemoration has been scaled back in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers are ready to bring back the full event.
The Legion supports a number of causes in the community, including giving generously to other organizations and individuals. They support not only veterans, but local non-profits and individuals in their endeavours to better the community. During this time of the year, the Legion is mainly focused on the former, including their poppy campaign and Remembrance Day ceremony. The Legion executive said that the scope of the Legion’s work is wider than many anticipate.
“A lot of people think that the Legion is just for World War I, World War II, and Korean War veterans,” said Arlene Johnston, president of the Legion Branch No. 96.
“We have the RCMP that are protecting us every day, and we still have veterans coming home from all the conflicts around the world. The Army Cadets and all of them are still ongoing, and providing safety to our communities and the world. We want to remember everybody, not just the people that have passed as well.”
These groups, among others, will be honoured and commemorated during the Legion’s upcoming ceremony on November 11. The event will take place at 10AM, by the cenotaph at the Merritt Civic Centre. Legion members, Rocky Mountain Rangers, and the RCMP will participate in this year’s ceremony. The program includes a vigil before the ceremony, the Colour Party’s march in, remarks and prayers, as well as the traditional playing of The Last Post on bugle. Other proceedings will take place during and after the ceremony, including the laying of wreaths and a moment of silence.
The two minutes of silence, which the Legion’s website describes as the “most sacrosanct and central element” of Remembrance, is acknowledged at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Canadians pause and remember in silence the sacrifices of those who died in service and those who served and continue to serve. The moment of silence is held annually at the same time in which hostilities ended in 1918, at the end of the First World War.
“We’re here to help any veteran from any of the armies and navies, and a whole list of different branches that we support. I want to make sure that people are aware that we do unfortunately have ongoing conflicts, and it isn’t just about the old wars,” added Johnston.
Following the ceremony and the Colour Party’s return downtown, the Legion’s building on Quilchena Avenue will be host to an open house and commemorative event highlighting the service and sacrifice of veterans in Canada. Hot rum will be served to those of age, but all are welcome to attend.
For more information, send an email to Legion096@outlook.com, or call during regular business hours at 250-378-5631.