November 11th marks a special day for Canadians all around the world, Remembrance Day. We all wear our poppies and support our active military and veterans on this day. Remembrance became much more significant throughout the years because of one very special trip to Flanders Fields, I took with my parents when I was 16.
My parents and I were living in the UK, when I was 15/16. We were exploring not only the UK during our breaks but also most parts of Europe. While all of the places are interesting to me, visiting Flanders Fields, holds a special place in my heart. We were staying in the beautiful town of Bruges, a walled city just an hour northwest of the capital Brussels. After exploring, the tiny walled city, my father, being the history buff that he is, suggested that we take a tour of Flanders Fields. Being 16 at the time, I wasn’t enthralled by the idea of spending the day on the bus touring around Flanders Fields, the 10th war memorial/museum we have explored throughout our travels. With that in mind, I set off with my parents and a bus load of mostly Canadians and Americans. Being the youngest on the bus, didn’t make my start of the tour that fun.
The tour took us through Flanders Fields Battlefields from Bruges to Ypres. We stopped at Passchendaele, Polygon Wood & Hill 60 Battlefield in between. We got to explore trenches, bunkers and cemeteries. One of the many highlights of this tour was Vancouver Corner, the statue was placed and positioned in the direction of Vancouver from that location. Being from B.C., this was what furthered my interest into what the tour was going to hold. When you stop in Ypres, you get to walk through Menin Gate Memorial, which has over 55,000 names of soldiers who had fought in the First World War.
The one moment that has stuck with me since that tour, was at the very end of the tour. It was starting to rain, so our tour guide took us into an old bunker to remain dry. She brought out a piece of paper and began to recite ‘In Flanders Fields’ by Canadian John McCrae.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915
during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
As she was reading the above poem out loud, I felt this chill come across me. It wasn’t a chill from the cold or wind but almost goose bumps. At the end of the reading, she informed the group that that exact bunker we were currently standing in was where John McCrea wrote In Flanders Fields. I will never forget that moment, and how proud it made me to be Canadian.
Langley has four Remembrance Day Ceremonies to choose from. I urge everyone if they have the time to get out and remember those who have fallen and are still out their protecting Canada.
26607 Fraser Highway
10:40am Parade – Procession leaves Old Yale Road onto 268 Street, then heads west on Fraser Highway to the Aldergrove Legion at 26607 Fraser Highway.
10:50am Service at Aldergrove Legion Cenotaph – Fraser Blues flypast, ceremony, followed by potluck lunch and entertainment at the Legion.
20681 – 56 Avenue
10:25am Parade – Procession leaves 20570 – 56 Avenue, heads down the laneway, then south on 206 Street to Douglas Crescent, to the cenotaph at Douglas Park.
11am Service at Langley City Cenotaph – Fraser Blues flypast, ceremony, and moment of silence.
Murrayville Cemetery – Cenotaph
21405 – 44 Avenue
11am – Although no formal service will be held, residents often gather at the cenotaph to pay their respects on Remembrance Day. Murrayville and Fort Langley Cemeteries have twin cenotaphs that were erected in 1921. More than 500 veterans are buried in the two cemeteries.
Fort Langley Cemetery – Cenotaph
9045 Glover Road
10:25am Procession – Leaves the west end of the Fort Langley Cemetery and proceeds to the Fort Langley Cemetery Cenotaph.
10:40am Service at Fort Langley Cenotaph – including Fraser Blues flypast, followed by refreshments at St. George’s Anglican Church Hall, 9160 Church Street and at St. Andrew’s United Church Hall, 9025 Glover Road.