As we are all aware, 2020 has been a challenging year. Many events have been cancelled and gatherings changed to accommodate the rules surrounding the safe practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Remembrance Day this year will also be different. As the organizers of the annual tribute to our Veterans, past and present, Branch 52 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Kamloops, in conjunction with the City of Kamloops and the ANAVETS Unit 290, have made decisions about how the ceremony will be conducted.
This year Remembrance Day will be ‘By Veterans - For Veterans’, and true to the spirit of this motto, the ceremony will honour all Veterans, but in a different way.
Here are some aspects that will NOT be happening:
1) There will be no public gathering at Riverside Park
2) There will be no parade
3) There will be no fly-past by our friends from Cold Lake
4) The public will not be invited to attend the ceremony
5) Large contingents of Military, Police and First Responders will not be present
6) There will be no wreath laying by the general public
Here is a quick look at what WILL take place at our ‘By Veterans – For Veterans’ November 11th event.
The official ceremony will be held at the Battle Street Cenotaph, by invitation only, up to a maximum of 50 people. The area will be controlled access only.
The format of the ceremony will be very similar to past years; a Cenotaph Guard will be posted; the Colour Party will be marched on, and singing of ‘O Canada’, ‘Last Post’, etc. will be the same.
Local VIPs will be invited to lay wreaths, but this list will be restricted to local dignitaries, representatives of the Government of Canada, Province of British Columbia, City of Kamloops, ANAVETS, Royal Canadian Legion, Rocky Mountain Rangers and RCMP. Other than the non-Veteran VIPs, the ceremony will be restricted to Veterans. We will include our most senior WW2 Veterans as part of the group at the Cenotaph.
Following the usual tradition, it is our hope that members of the public will order wreaths through the Royal Canadian Legion (Poppy Office phone 250 374 0623), during the Poppy Campaign; however, those wreaths will be laid at the Cenotaph by Legion members prior to the ceremony at Battle Street. Proceeds of wreath sales and donations to the Poppy Campaign go to programs that directly support Veterans and their families. This year, more than ever, Veterans need your donations to the Poppy Campaign to continue, despite changes to the format of the Remembrance Day ceremony. Poppy boxes will be distributed throughout the Kamloops area, providing citizens the opportunity to donate in the usual manner.
The Remembrance Day event will be livestreamed, on the Kamloops (Branch 52) Legion Facebook page and at other locations, including CFJC-TV. More details as to where to watch the ceremony will be announced at a later date.
As with other aspects held on Nov. 11, the after-ceremony socializing will be much different as well.
The Rocky Mountain Rangers armoury will not be open to the public. The ANAVETS Unit will be restricted to members only. The Legion will be restricted to members and Veterans only.
With regards to the ANAVETS and the Legion, both locations are restricted as to the number of people who can be in the premises at any one time. Thus, visitors to either location, must be prepared to wait outside until entry is permitted.
The Royal Canadian Legion anticipates that the number of Veterans involved in the ceremony will be approximately 20, leaving room for about 30 Veterans to attend. If you are a Veteran and would like to attend the ceremony, please contact the Legion. Preference will be given to WW2, Korea, and Afghanistan Veterans; however, all Veterans, including RCMP are encouraged and welcome to make contact to attend. Space is very limited at the ceremony site.
To advise your wish to attend, please send your name and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be advised prior to November 11th if you have been selected to attend.
As the Keepers of Remembrance, the Royal Canadian Legion regrets having to exclude anyone from being part of the Remembrance Day Ceremony. We certainly hope this format will be a one-time occurrence. Please respect the need for a Veterans-only ceremony this year, and in spirit of our motto, this Remembrance Day will be ‘By Veterans – For Veterans’. Please show your respect and honour Veterans by adhering to these guidelines and watch the ceremony as it is live streamed. Respect, honour, and remembrance is a state of mind and is not tied to a specific time and place. Under the current circumstances and in new ways, members of the public will no doubt find personal time and space for remembrance and reflection.