Much-reduced Remembrance Day ceremony to be held in Quebec City

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Photo: Cassandra Kerwin from QCT archives

This photo was taken at the Remembrance Day ceremony held at the Cross of Sacrifice in Quebec City on Nov. 11, 2018. Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will be greatly reduced in size but not sentiment. Lest we forget…

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In normal years, large crowds gather at war memorials on Remembrance Day to honour members of the Canadian Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice and veterans who served in the First and Second World Wars, as well as the Korean War and other military conflicts.

Due to current restrictions on public gatherings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pierre Gosselin, commander of the Quebec City branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Filiale 265, Lt. Col. Jean-Charles Forbes, RMWO), informed the QCT that this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony, held at the Croix de Sacrifice (cenotaph) on Grande Allée near Porte Saint-Louis, will be much smaller than in past years.

There will be no parade, no marching band and no bagpiper. The usual 21-gun salute of cannons fired from the Citadel will likewise not take place. Although members of the public have not been told to stay away, they are not encouraged to attend.

The placement of commemorative wreaths will be restricted to a handful of representatives of the federal and provincial governments, military units and the Legion. Other organizations will not participate this year.

A lone trumpeter will play the “Last Post” at exactly 11 a.m., followed by two minutes of silence and the “Reveille.” For Remembrance Day ceremonies, the playing of “Last Post” and “Reveille” draws the symbolic association between the soldier’s last duty of “sitting sentry” (death) and “rising” above mortal duties (reveille).

Poppies will not be available in local stores, restaurants or shopping centres. They can be picked up only at the Royal Canadian Legion, located at 7101, boul. Wilfrid-Hamel, from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A donation to the annual poppy campaign helps veterans and their families. Donations to the national campaign can be made online at legion.ca/donations.

The following statement was distributed to local Legions by the Dominion Command in Ottawa: “The importance of a live ceremony honouring our veterans and their sacrifices is considered paramount by the Legion, especially during the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War…. The symbology of our Legions and community leaders paying homage to past sacrifices before the eyes of those that served is more important now than ever. Our pledge to never forget echoes loudly throughout a land that has been immersed in isolation with a population whose focus is far from the events that we honour with this ceremony.

“The 2020 National Remembrance Ceremony [also greatly reduced in size] will be conducted live at the National War Memorial [in Ottawa] on Nov. 11. This … plan will allow many elements of the previously conducted ceremonies to take place while working within the restrictions imposed by the current pandemic.”