Pandemic forces scaled back Remembrance Day events

But ceremonies will be live-streamed

Remembrance Day in Houston

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a changed Remembrance Day schedule of activities this year.

With gathering sizes strictly reduced, there won’t be a ceremony at the community hall and instead Legion executive members and a colour party will hold a small event beginning at 10 a.m. at the Legion branch, says Joanne Woodbeck, the executive secretary of the Royal Canadian Legion, Pleasant Valley Branch No. 249.

But although the public isn’t allowed to attend, the ceremony will be live-streamed via the branch’s Facebook page.

“That’s a way the public can still be involved,” said Woodbeck of the live-streaming.

The ceremony at the branch will involve a reading of the names of veterans by long time Legion member Margaret Murphy and the Rev. Mike McIntyre will provide the sermon.

Following the ceremony at the branch, the colour party will make its way to the cenotaph at approximately five minutes to 11 a.m.

At the cenotaph, the Last Post will sound followed by the traditional two minutes of silence.

And with the public not allowed to attend, wreaths will be laid and Dorrance Murphy, the master of ceremonies, will read out the list of those who purchased the wreaths.

In past years, upwards of 50 wreaths were purchased by family members and community organizations, said Woodbeck.

Even though the public is not allowed to attend the cenotaph, some people may show up and if they do, they are being asked to respect the COVID-19 social distancing rules, she noted.

“We’ll also be live-streaming at the cenotaph,” Woodbeck said.

Following the ceremony at the cenotaph, the Legion branch will be open to members of the public, especially for seniors, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“For these seniors, it’s an occasion they can get out and socialize and see people who perhaps they haven’t seen all year,” she said.

Hand sanitizing and signing in will be in force at the Legion with Woodbeck noting that social distancing rules place a limit of 46 people at any one time in the lounge downstairs and 50 people upstairs.

“That’s what we can accommodate,” said Woodbeck. “You can’t table hop and you cannot move chairs around for a bigger group.”

The hot turkey lunch, traditionally provided by the Legion auxiliary, won’t happen this year owing to pandemic guidance but there will be a lunch menu, she said.

Leading up to Nov. 11, poppies will be for sale at selected locations around the community and those who wish to buy a wreath can contact the Legion branch at 250-845-7789 or Woodbeck at 250-845-4151.

Gary Timms will be the Sergeant at Arms this Remembrance Day and Dorrance Murphy is the master of ceremonies.

In addition to Woodbeck as executive secretary, the Legion executive is president Don Woodbeck, past president Ambrose Kelly, vice president Brian Timms and director Moe Miller.

On Facebook, the Legion can be found at Houston Legion, Pleasant Valley Branch #249

The pandemic has also resulted in the cancelling of the traditional participation of the Legion at school assemblies held to note Remembrance Day.

But the Legion’s annual poster, essay, poem and video contest is still being held, noted Woodbeck.

There are four categories — posters for Grades 1 to 12, an essay for Grades 4 to 12, a poem for Grades 4 to 12 and a video opportunity for Grades 7 to 12.

Submissions have to be handed into the Legion by Nov. 15.

More information is available at https://www.legionbcyukon.ca/what-we-do/youth-and-remembrance