Air cadets take a quiet moment at the Lake Cowichan cenotaph after laying their wreath Nov. 11, 2019. This year, residents are asked not to go to the cenotaph, but rather to take part in the Remembrance Day ceremony online. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette file)

Editorial: COVID changing face of Remembrance Day this year

We are being asked to stay away from the traditional ceremonies at our cenotaphs.

Remembrance Day is going to look a lot different his Nov. 11.

The heart of Remembrance Day has always been the ceremonies at out community cenotaphs in Lake Cowichan, Duncan, Chemainus and Cobble Hill.

It has always been moving and heartwarming to see the huge turnout that these ceremonies attract, people coming together in our communities to remember the terrible cost of war — lest we forget.

Lest we forget the bravery and the sacrifice and the heroism. Lest we forget the pain and the tragedy and the loss. But most of all, because if we forget, we are more likely to repeat the past. And especially with the kind of weaponry we have at our disposal now, it is likely the world would not survive such a conflict again.

It is the 75th anniversary this year of the end of the Second World War. That war ended unforgettably in Japan with the dropping of two atomic bombs that decimated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Any new world war in which we engaged would see that kind of destruction visited on countless cities across the globe.

No, we cannot afford to forget.

This year, however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across our communities, we are being asked to stay away from the traditional ceremonies at our cenotaphs. Instead, we must tune in online to show our support.

If you still want the tangible experience of standing before the cenotaph, please do as we have been asked and schedule your visit for a time either before or after the official ceremony takes place. It is a small thing that organizers are asking of us, and, just as our citizens stepped up both overseas and at home to support the war effort, so are we now being asked to step up and ensure the safety of our fellow community members, especially our elders, for whom the Remembrance Day ceremony will always mean that much more because they lived it.

It is a very small sacrifice that we are being asked to make — nothing makes this more clear than Remembrance Day — and we think our community is up to the challenge.

The other thing we are being asked to do is not to forget about the annual Poppy Campaign. More people are staying at home as our health experts are urging us to do, so organizers are expecting that the poppy boxes won’t be as full this year. This is a vital fundraiser for our legions. People can still get a poppy at retailers throughout Cowichan. But if you’re staying home, consider donating by e-transfer to wpoppyrcl@gmail.com.

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