AN OVERFLOW audience packed the main theatre of the Tillicum Twin Theatre here Nov. 11 as the annual Remembrance Day service took place, an occasion more solemn following the deliberate deaths two weeks previously of two servicemen in Quebec and on Parliament Hill.Following the moment of silence at 11 a.m., there was also a direct connection to the Second World War when three local veterans of that conflict were recognized for their role in the landings at Normandy in France on June 6, 1944 and for the period after that which marked the beginning of the end of the war in Europe.
Sandy Sandhals, Bill McRae and Bob Goodvin were escorted to the front of the theatre by three RCMP officers in red serge where they were presented with medals struck by the French government.
“By Order of the President of the Republic of France, you have been awarded the rank of Knight Of The French National Order Of The Legion Of Honour,” said Royal Canadian Legion Branch 13 president Ray Hallock as legion member Peter Crompton, who spent months arranging for the medals to be awarded, presented them to the three men.
“This distinction illustrates the profound gratitude that France would like to express to you. It is awarded in recognition of your professional involvement in the liberation of our country. Through you France remembers the sacrifice of all of your compatriots who came to liberate French soil, often losing their lives in the process,” said Hallock.
A fourth recipient, Rowly Purmal, had moved away just last month but was also recognized by Hallock.
Hallock, in his address, mentioned the many wars and conflicts in which Canadians had taken part, listing the numbers who had been killed and injured.
“If you think of Terrace as having a population of approximately 20,000, you have an idea how great that death toll actually was,” said Hallock in noting the nearly 47,000 Canadians killed during the Second World War.
“In our own recent past, we as Canadians have felt the sting and have wept as innocent servicemen have been brutally killed on our own soil. We must become ever vigilant as Canada becomes a target of terrorist inspired acts of violence. And as the war on terror continues into the future, we must support our young men and women who answer the call and risk all to keep our beloved Canada and all Canadians safe,” said Hallock.
“Here today I see a room full of Canadians of all colors, religions, languages and cultures. I see a room full of Canadians, both new and born, together in unity and remembrance of those untold thousands who gave their lives in the two great wars in modern history, without whose sacrifice this gathering, our freedoms, and our way of life would never have been possible.”
Following the service, a parade made up of the legion’s colour guard, veterans, the Terrace Pipes and Drums, RCMP officers, firefighters, Guides and Scouts and others wound their way to the cenotaph for the laying of wreaths.
Outside the theatre, as people filed in to take part in the service, the aftermath of the deaths of the two servicemen in Quebec and on Parliament Hill and of the heightened sense of apprehension which followed, was evident by the presence across Lakelse Ave. from the theatre of an RCMP officer standing on watch and armed with an automatic weapon.