Hundreds attend Edmonton Remembrance Day ceremony honouring Canadians killed in wars

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Hundreds gathered, wearing bright red poppies, at the cenotaph outside City Hall on Thursday morning for a Remembrance Day ceremony.

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Members of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military marched into Churchill Square to begin the solemn event. Government delegates and military officials spoke words of gratitude, honouring the lives of Canadians who died and fought in wars.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi says it’s a time to remember people who sacrificed their lives, and that the freedoms Canadians enjoy today exist because of them.

“Our freedom […] to speak our mind and be heard, all that exists because of those we are remembering today, who gave their lives to protect these values,” he says.

Many in the crowd bowed their heads and closed their eyes, and soldiers stood at attention, as a single trumpeter played the Last Post before a moment of silence around 11 a.m. Military representatives and family members of fallen soldiers placed wreaths at the base of the cenotaph before the ceremony concluded.

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Billy Paul lays a handmade wreath and cross in memory of his father Warren Paul, a Second World War veteran wounded in battle, on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser, Postmedia
Billy Paul lays a handmade wreath and cross in memory of his father Warren Paul, a Second World War veteran wounded in battle, on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser, Postmedia Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

Billy Paul lays a handmade wreath and cross wrapped in willow branches, with red poppies and silk leaves, and a black-and-white photo of his father attached in the centre. Warren Paul was a Canadian Second World War veteran who went to fight when he was 24, was wounded in battle and sent home.

Billy Paul has been placing a wreath in his father’s memory every year in the two decades since his death. He says it felt good to see so many people come out to show their support.

“The way dad said it, there were lots of heroes out there, but nobody was there to witness (how they gave) their lives up like that. He was fortunate to come back even though he was wounded, and it messed him up,” he says.

“Anybody that didn’t come back was a hero, eh? Because they gave it all.”

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Heather Middleton, a Silver Cross recipient, placed a wreath in remembrance of her brother Corp. Joshua Baker as she does every year.

“We miss him a lot, and wish he was here to watch my kids grow,” she says. “(I feel) a lot of pride for what he did and for laying his life down for others.”

At 24 years old, Baker was killed in Afghanistan fighting with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment in 2010. Middleton was encouraged by the large crowd that attended Thursday’s ceremony, especially after it was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a tough day, but it’s also a day where we can reflect and be happy to be living in freedom,” she says.

Her daughter Tristan Middleton says being part of the ceremony helps her feel close to her uncle who died when she was 12.

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“It’s something that at school I always talked about with friends, and have always wanted to make sure that this generation still understands the impact that it had […] I think It’s really important to show our support for current military as well as the past.”

Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph outside Edmonton City Hall on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser, Postmedia.
Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph outside Edmonton City Hall on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser, Postmedia. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

At least 61,000 and up to over 66,000 Canadians died in the First World War.

In the Second World War, between 42,000 and upwards of 45,000 Canadian soldiers were killed. Six million Jews were systematically murdered by Nazi Germany in the Holocaust , along with millions of others, including Soviet and Polish citizens, Roma, and people with disabilities, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum .

More than 897,000 and as many as 929,000 people died in post-9/11 wars from direct violence, including 158 Canadian Armed Forces members in Afghanistan.

Premier Jason Kenney, in a news release, urged Albertans to reflect and remember those who died fighting in wars: “We must be intentional in remembering and honouring their sacrifice.”

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military marches toward Churchill Square for a Remembrance Day ceremony outside Edmonton City Hall on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser, Postmedia.
The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military marches toward Churchill Square for a Remembrance Day ceremony outside Edmonton City Hall on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser, Postmedia. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia
Remembrance Day ceremony outside Edmonton City Hall on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser, Postmedia.
Remembrance Day ceremony outside Edmonton City Hall on Nov. 11, 2021. Photo by Ed Kaiser, Postmedia. Photo by Ed Kaiser /Postmedia

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