The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot of aspects of everyday life, including gathering for special occasions.
What the pandemic has not changed is that we will stop, honour and remember the men and women who gave their lives during the World Wars, and subsequent conflicts around the world.
The Sylvan Lake Legion along with the Town of Sylvan Lake are making sure Remembrance Day does not pass without thought.
Ed Stevenson, president of the Sylvan Lake Legion, says it is more important this year than ever before to mark Remembrance Day.
“It is vastly important to honour them and what they have done for us,” Stevenson said.
“We cannot forget them and what they have done.”
Stevenson said because it is so important to honour veterans and Remembrance Day, innovations had to be done to hold the ceremony and annual poppy drive.
Every year the Legion hosts a poppy drive by leaving donation boxes at local businesses. This year, because of the virus, it was not advisable to leave the donation boxes around town.
“We were told by some businesses and AHS that it wouldn’t be safe for the employees or the customers to sell poppies that way this year,” Stevenson said. “So we came up with an idea that I think will work pretty well.”
This year the poppy drive will be done on one day in a drive through format.
On Nov. 7 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the parking lot across from the Sylvan Lake Legion, volunteers will be situations to hand out poppies for a donation.
“This way people can still get their poppies that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” said Stevenson.
The other innovation is the Remembrance Day service itself. This year the full service will be live streamed online on Nov. 11.
Stevenson says there will be a small audience of about 70 people present, but the service is invitation only. The invitations will be reserved for veterans.
“We think it is important to have the veterans there and to have a full service,” said Stevenson.
Thanks to the partnership with the Town, the service will be live streamed so everyone can still take part from home.
Stevenson says the Town has put a lot of time and energy into make the live stream a possibility.
“It is more important this year to have the full service because we will have reduced numbers, I think. This year the padre will give a service of hope and remembrance,” he said.
The ceremony will be broadcast through the Town of Sylvan Lake’s YouTube channel. Those unable to watch the ceremony live may also watch the ceremony on-demand, following the event.
“We feel it’s important to celebrate and honour those who fought, and continue to fight, for the freedoms we enjoy every day,” the Town said in a statement.
The only aspects of Remembrance Day that isn’t changing for the local Legion is laying crosses at graves of veterans at the cemetery and the poster contest at the schools.
Members of the Legion will gather at the cemetery on Nov. 4 to lay crosses at grave sites to mark the final resting place of local veterans.
“Our poster and literary program is operating at full capacity still,” Stevenson said.
The live stream of the Remembrance Day ceremony will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Nov. 11.