Silence. One of the rarest moments in a building filled with men, women, children, and elders. Yet, not one word is spoken. The sound of occasional coughs can be heard, but it hardly makes a difference as the atmosphere becomes serious and thoughtful.
All minds were miles away for two minutes.
Remembering. Remembering the fallen, remembering the wounded, and remembering the people who have been or are still in service.
Such was the annual Remembrance Day service, “Lest We Forget,” held at the Scarborough Civic Centre on Nov. 10.
During the ceremony, between the reading of the poem “Her Battle” written by Justine Shackleton and the sound of the trumpets playing, the traditional two minutes of silence commenced within the municipal walls.
Among the many veterans attending , Alfred Beese, 85, who served in the British Military Forces from 1946 to 1948, said he remembered his cousin, Albert, who served in the Canadian army. When Beese was 16, Albert visited him and his family in England while he was on leave.
“He was very, very quiet. I didn’t know what time it was at that time, but now I can only speculate that he had been a part of the [Dieppe] Raid,” Beese said in an nterview. “After he [came back], we went to some soccer games and I remember his enthusiasm for those games and I guess he was ready to let off some steam, relax and get it out of his system. You don’t forget things like that.”
Denise Fleming, 55, the secretary and youth educator at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Branch 13, also had someone special in her mind during those two minutes. She thought of her father who served in the British Air Force.
“I think of my father because he was no longer with us,” Fleming said. “My dad used to march just like [the veterans in the parades] and I always remember him in my head with the uniform on and how smart he looked and how proud he was of being a military person.”
Although many people had specific family members in mind, there were also people who thought of the Canadian Military as a whole. Dalton Moore, 82, who served in the Korean War in 1951 and 1952, said he used those two minutes to think of the 500 Canadian soldiers who died during the Korean War and the thousands of people who died in both World Wars.
“If we remember the sacrifices of the many thousands of men and women and children [and], unfortunately, [those] who die trying to maintain the peace or get peace, if we … remember the horrors of war then perhaps, just perhaps we won’t have future wars,” Moore said. “We only hope that we can minimize the amount of damage it’s done and hopefully save lives and maintain peace.”
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly agreed. Throughout the ceremony, Kelly, who helped emcee the event, stressed the importance of people who are willing to defend Canada’s society and democracy.
“This is one of those times when you get outside of yourself and you begin to think of others and the importance of their contribution to your well being,” Kelly said in an interview. “We are not isolated units in society, our way of life, our prosperity, our freedoms, all are intertwined with everybody else.”
As the moment of silence ended, the trumpets began to play and the crowd raised their heads. They all knew the moment would be gone until next year, but many said the memories will still remain in their thoughts, memories and actions.