(Charlie Senack photos)
An estimated crowd of well over 300 people gathered in front of John McCrae Secondary School for the 2023 Barrhaven Remembrance Day ceremony Sat. Nov. 11.
It was a poignant ceremony hosted by Royal Canadian Legion Barrhaven Branch 641. In addition to the numerous veterans and military personnel, a military band added to the event.
It was the largest Remembrance Day to date at the cenotaph in front of the high school. For years, the service was held in the parking lot at the Walter Baker Centre, next to the school. During the COVID restrictions, the service was temporarily moved to Capital Gardens on Prince of Wales Drive, and then it moved back to the cenotaph but with an extremely limited number of people allowed to attend.
Having the cenotaph at the high school after John McCrae has special meaning. Lieutenant-Colonel McCrae is best known for writing the poem, In Flanders Fields. McCrae wrote the poem May 3, 1915 after watching the burial of his friend, Lt. Alexis Helmer, was killed in the Second Battle of Ypres.
The Barrhaven Remembrance Day was one of many in the area. Nepean MPP Lisa MacLeod was in attendance at the ceremony at Centrepointe.
“This week, we are commemorating Remembrance Day, reflecting on all of the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for us,” MacLeod posted on X. “In an increased time of violence around the world, especially with continued attacks on Ukraine by Russia and Israel by Hamas, this is a time to reflect.”
Councillor David Hill is a veteran who served in Afghanistan. Earlier in the week, he visited Barrhaven Public School to talk to students about Remembrance Day.
Hill spoke “on the importance of kindness and how the Poppy reminds me of my friends who helped me. Their kindness inspired me while in Afghanistan and Lebanon. They risked a lot to have safer land for their kids to grow up.”
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields, the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead, short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.