Despite snowy conditions, hundreds of Calgarians braved the cold to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Armistice Agreement of 1918 that ended the First World War and honour those who have fought, currently fight and will fight in years to come.
Remembering at the Military Museums
Hundreds of veterans and civilians alike gathered at the Military Museums to pay tribute to those involved in the military.
“One hundred years is a long time,” says Eric Kahler, Navy veteran and director at the Naval Museum at the Military Museums. “As we are remembering today, think of the people who fought and died. Many of them were just teenagers.”
Kahler, whose family has served with the Navy over the course of three generations, explains that in previous wars, 15- 16- and 17-year-olds were conscripted to the military. However, today the youngest someone can join is 16 with parental consent.
The Calgary Highlanders: Central Memorial Park service
The Central Memorial Park service started around 10 a.m. with different levels of reserve military from the Calgary Highlanders. Reserve members marched, spoke, performed drills and helped lay the wreaths.
The Calgary Highlanders, formed in 1910, have served in both world wars, NATO missions and the war in Afghanistan.
MLA for Calgary-Fort and Alberta’s minister of finance, Joe Ceci, spoke near the beginning of the ceremony about the importance of November 11.
“It was a full century ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month that an armistice was signed bringing an end to the greatest conflict the world had ever seen,” Ceci addressed the crowd.
During the placement of the wreaths, hundreds of Calgarians placed their poppies on the armistice monument to pay respect to all lives lost.
Brigade parade on Memorial Drive
As snow fell over top of the city around 10 a.m., the 41 Canadian Brigade Group began the centenary of the First World War Armistice with a brigade parade through downtown Calgary.
More than 300 sailors and soldiers began their march near the Memorial Drive Field of Crosses and ended at the Mcdougall Centre by 10:40 a.m.
For 20 minutes, the crowd admired the soldiers and stood proudly with respect as they waited for the 20th Independent Field Battery, RCA (the Lethbridge Gunners) to fire a gun at 11 a.m. to commence the two minutes of silence and a 21-gun salute followed.
Shortly after the two minutes of silence, representatives laid wreaths on the steps of the Mcdougall Centre to honour fallen Canadian soldiers.
As the parade came to an end, attendees gathered on the sidewalk to watch the procession march past.
An estimated 53,300 Canadian veterans of the Second World War are still living, according to a report by Statistics Canada from 2017, the median age being 92. Approximately 7,700 remain from the Korean War.
More than 115,816 Canadian soldiers have given their lives since 1899 until the Korean War and more than 1.7 million have served in the Canadian Armed Forces. An estimated 1,800 Canadian Armed Forces Members have given their lives “In the Service of Canada” during peacekeeping missions and times of conflict since October 1947.
With the exception of Korean War soldiers from 1947 - 1953 who are remembered in the Korean War Book of Remembrance, these 1,800 include those related to Afghanistan service and are commemorated in the Seventh Book of Remembrance. This serves as a living document for generations to come and rests in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower at Parliament Hill along with all of the Books of Remembrance which pay tribute to every individual who has served and fallen throughout Canada’s 151-year history.
- By Alexandra Nicholson, Richie Nguyen, Tatianna Ducklow, Shaunda Lamont & Simran Sachar