Uniformed figures stood still and silent on ceremonial guard at corners of the cenotaph outside the 100 Mile Community Hall, while onlookers with red poppies on their chests lined the sidewalks of Birch Avenue in anticipation of the annual Remembrance Day parade.
The sound of distant bagpipes announced its commencement.
Hundreds of residents packed the community hall for the hour-long Nov. 11 ceremony that followed.
Royal Canadian Legion Branch #260 president Bob Wangensteen said the large turnout was heart-warming, and customary of 100 Mile House.
“It’s like this every year. People in 100 Mile are fantastic. Everybody gets behind it 100 per cent. This is a wonderful small town.
“I want people to know we’ve had hundreds of thousands of veterans make the ultimate sacrifice in the last 100 years,” Wangensteen added.
“They gave us the country we live in. It warms my heart to see the people come out and honour them.”
Recent attacks, which claimed the lives of two Canadian soldiers – Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, – in eastern Canada in October, seemed to have added to the gravity and poignancy of Remembrance Day ceremonies all over the country this year.
Pastor Gary Forsyth, Legion Branch #260 pastor, talked about gratitude during the ceremony and then led the crowd in prayer.
“We all witnessed some horrific events,” Forsyth said of the attacks on Vincent and Cirillo.
“We heard about two men that lost their lives…. What we witnessed was evil. There’s no other way to put it.
“I think all of us in our daily lives, we deal with evil to some extent,” he added. “However, there are those who live in our country and in our community who have made a choice that they confront evil as a vocation … a profession, a way of life.”
The Eclectica Community Choir sang throughout the ceremony, which saw close to a dozen groups lay wreaths at the foot of the stage in the Community Hall.
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett also paid her respects and addressed the crowd.
“Many countries are not at peace,” she said. “Men, women and children, still live day-to-day, hour-by-hour, wondering, ‘Will it ever end?’ Lives too many to count since the First World War have been taken.
“We do not understand why guns cannot be put to rest…. Why not settle differences with ballots, not bullets? Why not think of life, not death?…. I hope we will one day soon find the answers to these questions.”
Barnett also gave thanks to those serving Canada today, and to those who never came home from war.
“We will never forget your sacrifice.”