Local war vets remembered, first responders honoured at Remembrance Day ceremony in Taylor

Community leaders and first responders gathered at the Taylor hall Wednesday to reflect on the ultimate cost of war, and honour the sacrifices of war veterans and first responders.

This year's ceremony was closed to the public due to the pandemic, and Mayor Rob Fraser acknowledged the district wasn't able to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War as they would have liked.

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"This year marks the 75th anniversary of World War Two," Fraser said. "This year is different — for the first time since Remembrance Day was initiated, the public is being discouraged from attending the ceremony personally."

Fraser encouraged people to visit the Taylor cenotaph to pay their respects and lay a wreath or poppy when there are fewer people around. 

Taylor Remembrance Day
Pastor Wally Pohlmann closes the ceremony in prayer following the laying of the wreaths in Taylor on November 11, 2020. - Dillon Giancola

Pastor Wally Pohlmann's message focused on the importance of remembering the cost paid for Canadians to enjoy and live their lives as they do today. 

"Even in the midst of the little bit of chaos we’re in today, it’s important to not only remember our past, but also remember the cost of our freedoms at home, and around the world," said Pohlmann. "We do not come together on this day to celebrate the wars, the engagements, the good or bad, right or wrong ... we come together to remember the men and woman who gave to their country and community, who gave their life for what they believe."

Taylor Remembrance Day
The Northern Lights Choir sings "Dona Nobis Pacem" during the Taylor Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11, 2020. - Dillon Giancola

Pohlmann spoke about a local teacher whose student asked how many war vets were interred at Taylor cemeteries.

The teacher and her class brought the question to the Peace Crossing Historical Society. After doing some research, it was determined that at least 14 veterans were laid to rest at cemeteries in and around Taylor.

Pohlmann said the Historical Society is trying to find the best way to mark their graves so familes and community members can honour those who fought for their country. 

"To that teacher, to those students, I wish to say thank you for remembering," said Pohlmann. "Thank you for the idea that came out of your questions of how many (war veterans) do we have, and where are these veterans interred for eternity," said Pohlmann.

Taylor Remembrance Day
A Taylor Fire Rescue member lays a wreath during the Remembrance Day Ceremony on November 11, 2020. - Dillon Giancola

The ceremony honoured not only war veterans, but first responders too, including members of the RCMP, Taylor Fire Rescue, and others, for putting their lives on the line every day. 

"I'm a traditionalist when it comes to remembrance day but this year has been very, very different. This year another battle is being fought with the men and women in our public health system — there may not be any bullets flying, but many of them are being placed in real danger to fight this coronavirus," said Fraser, acknowledging those who lost their lives at the start of the pandemic, when information about COVID-19 was still being discovered.

"I would like to acknowledge their sacrifice this year, please give them space in your thoughts and prayers today," he said.

Taylor Fire Captain Matt Edgar spoke on behalf of first responders, and shared memories of attending Remembrance Day ceremonies and parades with his grandparents. 

"We are not able to gather together as we normally would… but here we are, still gathering in remembrance, whether in person or online," Edgar said. "We all have the opportunity to reflect on what Remembrance Day means to us, and I encourage those of you that can to visit the cenotaph here in Taylor, to leave a poppy, to say a prayer, and say thank you."

Email reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca.

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