Church Parade Honours Prince George Veterans
Prince George, B.C. – A sunny fall day provided the backdrop for a solemn remembrance of, and display of gratitude to, veterans from the Prince George area who gave their lives in war.
The annual Church Parade, which is held each year on the Sunday before Remembrance Day to mark the start of Veteran’s Week, proceeds from the gates at the Prince George cemetery to the Veterans Memorial on the west side of the grounds. The procession includes members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43, infantry reservists, cadets from the army, navy and air force and first responders.
Chaplain Cal Malena conducted the service at the memorial and told the large gathering that “while many people this Sunday morning are meeting and praying in houses of worship around the city of Prince George, we choose to meet and pray in this cemetery, among the dead. We do this knowing that God is with us here in this cemetery as much as God is with those who are in a house of worship.”
“We do this because here in this cemetery the reality of danger and death and sacrifice is more vivid to us. We come here to remember not only those who risk and sometimes lose their lives in military service, but also to honour and pray for other protective services within our community and for our political leaders. We come to stand together with them in solidarity. We come to be in God’s presence and to pray for his help and blessing for us.”
“I for one,” says Chaplain Malena “often find it profound and humbling to be in a cemetery, to read the tombstones and to wonder how each of these people lived and how they died. It always reminds me of my own mortality, and the truth that every one of us will end up in a place like this some day.”
“And what will our lives have counted for? Will we be remembered for doing good, for being brave, for being loving, for being just, for serving others. Some people buried here died of old age, some from illness or accident. But some died sacrificially, they put themselves in harm’s way and they died fighting or working for the sake of others.”
Jesus once said “greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Today we especially remember and honour those service men and women who died so that we could live in a free and prosperous country.”
During the course of the service several prayers were said in honour of those service people as wreaths were laid at the Veterans Memorial. Wreaths were placed by members of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43, the RCMP, Company B of the Rocky Mountain Rangers Army Reserve infantry regiment, Mayor Lyn Hall on behalf of the City of Prince George, members of Prince George Fire Rescue, Corrections Canada, the BC Ambulance Service, Army cadets, Sea cadets, Air Cadets, Navy League Cadets and Mayor Lyn Hall on behalf of the Lheidli T’enneh.
As the sound of bagpipes stirred filled the air, members of the various troops and forces on hand individual placed their poppies at the foot of the Veterans Memorial.
The ceremony was followed by a gathering at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch on 6th Avenue with members of the Rocky Mountain Rangers presenting a recital in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel on the western front in France during World War 1.