Remembrance Day services brought crowds of people, young and old, out to Surrey and White Rock cenotaphs, churches and legions Friday to pay tribute to those who sacrificed themselves for the freedoms enjoyed today.
And while it’s unclear exactly how many people turned out to all local events overall, legion officials agree they went well.
“It was very well-attended,” White Rock Legion president John Fletcher – who attended services at the White Rock Cenotaph, White Rock Legion and Sunnyside Lawn Cemetery Cenotaph – said Monday.
Fletcher said well-known tenor Mark Donnelly’s rendition of the anthem was reportedly well-received in White Rock; as was a Red Serge honour guard of a corporal, sergeant and staff sergeant at Sunnyside Lawn, where the trio laid a wreath on behalf of all veterans, current military and first responders.
In Cloverdale, hundreds gathered at the cenotaph for the Surrey Remembers tribute, which was followed by activities at the Surrey Museum, including an opportunity to write thank-you notes on postcards that will be delivered to Lower Mainland veterans.
At the Crescent Legion, Branch 240, president Stu Worthington estimated between 450 and 500 people attended.
“We had a fantastic turnout. It just went off without a hitch,” he said.
Worthington said the ceremony was shortened somewhat this year; an effort he notes was “very much appreciated” by attendees.
Highlights included a fly-by and the presence of a Second World War small tank, the latter provided by a member who supplies a different one every year for the occasion.
Worthington described the number of locals that turned out to the service as “very gratifying.”
“Down here, people have come together,” he said.
Fletcher agreed – “people should be proud” – pointing to the poppy campaign as another aspect he is particularly proud of, noting his branch raised an estimated $80,000 in donations this year.
“That is just this legion here,” he said, noting the White Rock branch is one of seven in the Peace Arch zone.
He commended the 190 volunteers who took shifts offering the poppies leading up to Nov. 11; some put in “four and five” two-hour shifts, he said.
“We make a very big effort to reach out to the members and they responded very well,” Fletcher said.
In general, the funds support veterans. The legion also makes “a lot” of donations to local hospitals, including Peace Arch and Surrey Memorial, Fletcher said.
Arleen Lindblad estimated final totals from the Crescent Branch 240 campaign will be on par with that raised last year, around $47,000, but said they are still being counted.