Ed Dickens, second from right, wipes his eyes, while sitting between his daughter, Janice Dickens, right, and Veendam exchange student Sander Hofstee during the Remembrance Day ceremony at Cenotaph Memorial Square Sunday in City Park.
An appeal to preserve God as an integral part of Remembrance Day was made during the Nov. 11 service in City Park.
There is pressure in some areas to remove explicit references to God to make the service more welcoming to people of differing faiths, Rev. Dick Fletcher told a large crowd that gathered around the Cenotaph.
Fletcher urged those in attendance to write to various politicians to ensure such a campaign does not succeed.
“Let’s make sure that God is never taken out of this program,” Fletcher said at the end of the hour-long service, to murmurings of agreement from many of those in the crowd.
It’s hard to imagine how a Remembrance Day service might be orchestrated without references to God, given the number of hymns and prayers that are typically included in the program.
Earlier in the service, for example, Fletcher offered a prayer asking that those men and women currently serving their country receive God’s grace and courage to deal with the perils they face.
At another point, people were urged to be mindful of God’s generosity and ability to prevent violence, discord and confusion. “Make us who come from many different nations a united people,” Fletcher said.
Despite a chilly temperature of minus 3 C, Sunday’s service attracted a large crowd. The bleachers were full and people were assembled 20 deep around the Cenotaph.
“What a glorious sight to see such a fabulous crowd,” emcee Michael Loewen said at the beginning of the service. “We’re here to give thanks to all who have served their country in a time of trial.”
Those who fought and died in conflicts ranging from the War of 1812 to the recently concluded military operation in Afghanistan, Lowen said, “we ordinary Canadians who made extraordinary sacrifices.”
Kelowna fire chief Jeff Carlisle told of a chance meeting he had in Hawaii with Joseph Langdale, the last surviving officer aboard the USS Arizona, destroyed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. The pair ended up talking for half an hour, Carlisle said, urging those in the crowd to make a similar effort to connect and converse with one of the diminishing number of Second World War veterans.
“These heroes served their country 70 years ago to preserve our freedoms and protect the peace,” Carlisle said.
I say we must keep God in our #Nov11 ceremonies #lestweforget!