November 11, 2013 marked the 94th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended the 1st World War. Metro Vancouver has over 16 locations that hold a ceremony to commemorate the soldiers who fought in all wars to protect our country and allowed us to become the nation we are today.
This year, I set my alarm and woke up early for Remembrance Day. I attend the Remembrance Day ceremony usually every year, and this year I wanted to be apart of the ceremony held in the commercial drive neighborhood. For me, this area of Vancouver is a true representation of not just our city, but the country we live in. It’s a cultural junction where people from all over the world come and attempt to live in harmony. Families, students, hipsters, seniors, and teenagers can all be found mingling with one another as different cultural aspects are exchanged and understood.
The ceremony was just that. Families of all nationalities, senior veterans, and couples from not just Canada, but from all over came together to remember those who had fallen. There was a park near by, strewn with children playing, and as the horn blew during the moment of silence it seemed to have cleared out entirely. As though no matter your age, experience, or knowledge of what was going on, everyone seemed to understand its significance.
The only thing missing sadly was young people. Yes, children that came with their families and couples in their mid to late thirties could be found at every turn of the head, but I seemed to be one of the only people around my age attending.
Later, I met up with Warrant Officer, Gary Leung, who is part of an Air Cadets squadron based out of the commercial drive neighborhood of Vancouver. During the ceremony, he led the parade of cadets. At 18 years old, this is Gary’s last year in the Cadets unless he joins as an officer in the years to come and become a leader in his community. The Cadets, funded by government programs and gaming grants, allows youth a chance to experience a taste of army life. From this experience, they gain discipline, friends, and a chance to try new things. In Gary’s case, this was camping. He told me that before joining the cadets with his brother he never really had the chance to go camping and took every opportunity he had to join the numerous trips the cadets offered. “ I really enjoyed my time so far and would recommend the experience to any inner city kids interested in camping. The survival skills you learn are priceless!”
Finally, I asked him his thoughts on the lack of youth attending the ceremony. “I think it has a lot to do with a lack of knowledge of why we are having the ceremony. Yes, it’s a day off, but there’s a reason for that; to remember the people that fought, and the sacrifices they made. I think a lot of young people don’t acknowledge this though and only see it as a holiday.” For an 18 year old, I found he showed wisdom beyond his years. I for one could not have agreed with him more.
Photo Credit: www.calgaryherald.com