STRAIT AREA: As large public gatherings are still not permitted, two local legion branches will be hosting very different Remembrance Day services this year.
All changes to standard Remembrance Day activities have been made in accordance with provincial health regulations and to avoid any chance of spread of COVID-19.
In Antigonish, Royal Canadian Legion Arras Branch 59 will not host a public service at the monument, however wreaths will still be sold until November 9, but purchasers must understand these will not be placed during a public event.
“This year of course with COVID everything is turned upside down and backwards,” branch 59 President James Matheson said. “But we’re going to strive through it.”
Instead, a small contingent of legion members will handle these private wreaths and lay them at the Cenotaph.
Those wishing to buy wreaths and place them themselves, may do so on private gravesites or in the afternoon on Remembrance Day at the cenotaph – provided they follow COVID-19 protocol rules and gathering limits.
On the morning of Remembrance Day at 11 a.m. there will be a shortened private service at the cenotaph by invitation only, and RCL members will only lay seven official wreaths at this time.
In neighbouring Port Hawkesbury, each year approximately 1,500 to 2,000 area residents attend Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43’s annual Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph on Reeves Street. This year, they have decided to hold a very much smaller ceremony.
“The large crowd in attendance each year reminds us all of how important and emotional the Remembrance Day ceremony is for all the families who participate,” Brach 43 Poppy Chair Rod Corbett said. “We are forever thankful for the support our community displays for the continuation of the tradition of Remembrance.”
Port Hawkesbury’s Remembrance Day ceremony will be held inside branch 43 and attendance will be restricted to just the colour party and the branch 43 executive.
So that everyone can participate in the ceremony and, most importantly, join together for the annual two minutes of silence, Corbett advised that 101.5 The Hawk has generously agreed to broadcast the ceremony live.
Unlike in Antigonish, there will be no individual wreaths sold this year in Port Hawkesbury, either for businesses or for family members.
“There will be a single large community wreath representing all the personal wreaths that are normally laid,” Corbett said. “At the ceremony on Remembrance Day, all those who will have contributed to the community wreath will be recognized.”
Following the ceremony, a listing of the businesses and organizations and the names of those who contributed along with the names of their family members, will be listed on the branch 43 Facebook page.