Surprise in store for those attending Legion Remembrance Day services

Organizers have a surprise in store for people who attend Remembrance Day services hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion in Red Deer.

Organizers have a surprise in store for people who attend Remembrance Day services hosted by the Royal Canadian Legion in Red Deer.

For the first time in the history of Branch 35, the woman chosen to be Silver Cross Mother will be escorted by the soldier she raised, a Red Deer reservist who served in Afghanistan.

Remembrance Day chairman Grant MacKay would not name the pair, saying he’s keeping that bit of information under his hat until the time comes for him to call the returned veteran to the floor to escort his mother.

Like veterans of the Second World War, many of those who served in Afghanistan are not ready to talk about the experience now, said MacKay.

The Red Deer Legion recently held a special ceremony to commemorate veterans who served in Afghanistan. Only four veterans arrived to receive the recognition, said MacKay.

It is only as they reach their 80s birthdays that some Second World War vets have started talking about the things they went through while they were serving, he said.

He confirmed that the average age of Second World War veterans is now 88.

There will be two services in Red Deer, with the Legion hosting its services at the Red Deer Arena and the Korean Veterans Association to hold a service downtown at Veterans’ Park.

Anyone planning to attend the Legion service is asked to be there by 10 a.m. to ensure that they find seating. The Legion will hand flags out for children to wave for the veterans in attendance, he said.

“That always brings a tear to the veterans’ eyes,” he said.

Elsewhere in Central Alberta, Legion branches plan to host ceremonies for Nov. 11, originally chosen to commemorate the First World War Armistice, signed at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.

Across Canada, Remembrance Day ceremonies climax at 11 a.m. with two minutes of silence in recognition of those who fell.

Legion Branches throughout Central Alberta will hold ceremonies based around the 11th hour:

Innisfail: Services are set for the Legion Auditorium, starting at 10 a.m. and followed by a parade to the cenotaph. Coffee and sandwiches will be served afterward in the auditorium.

Lacombe: People are invited to attend a $5 breakfast at the Legion, starting at 8 a.m. The morning service is set for the Lacombe Memorial Centre starting with a parade from the Legion at 10:40. The Legion will be open to the public afterward, with a separate room available for any children who wish to take part.

Olds: The parade assembles at 10 a.m. in the gym of the Olds Senior-Junior High School with a brief ceremony to follow afterward at the Cenotaph.

Ponoka: Ceremonies start at 10:15 with a march from the Blue Ox restaurant to the Legion, where services are to begin at 10:45. The Legion will host a potluck lunch afterward.

Rocky Mountain House: Services are set for 10:40 a.m. at the Lou Soppit Community Centre.

Stettler: Services will be held at the Performing Arts Centre with assembly at 10:30 a.m.

Sylvan Lake: People are asked to arrive between 10 and 10:30 a.m. for the main service, to be held at the new multi-plex, located next to the arena. MLA Luke Ouellette and MP Earl Dreeshen are to attend an outdoor second service set for 2 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church, which is just north of the Cenotaph.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com