The graveyard at the former United Church at Mill Bay is still a stop for the cadets and volunteers as they remember veterans. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen file)

Schedule set for remembering veterans at Cowichan graveyards

These ceremonies are attracting more and more people as the Valley remembers is veterans

GUEST COLUMN: MIKE BIELING

It was only after the guns fell silent on Nov. 11, 1918, after four years of total war, that the world began to grapple with the scale and meaning of the catastrophe that had shattered European civilization, and with how to memorialize such an event and all the lives lost in it.

The first Armistice Day observation was authorized by King George V to mark Nov. 11, 1919, in remembrance of the service men and women who fell during the conflict, and the practice was quickly adopted across the British Empire.

Since today’s Crosses of Sacrifice and other war memorials, often set in small urban parks, didn’t appear widely until after an international fundraising campaign in the 1920s and ‘30s, early Armistice Day services were often held in local cemeteries, in which numbers of returned wounded veterans were already being interred.

When the Royal Canadian Legion was founded in November 1925, its orders defined its Armistice Day service as a cemetery-based ceremony, and local tradition holds that these were organized at St. Peter’s Church, Quamichan, and St. Ann’s Church, Tzouhalem, from 1926 onward.

When the local cenotaph now in Charles Hoey Park was erected in Duncan during the 1930s, the Legion’s Remembrance Day observations shifted to that location and focused more explicitly on veterans who fell and were interred overseas, rather than on those who had survived and returned to live out their days at home.

This encouraged Legion volunteers in branches across the country to continue with the cemetery cross placements to honour all who had served, and the Duncan branch was one of these.

In 1955, Mountain View Cemetery, Somenos, was established as a municipal burial ground with a Legion Section reserved for veterans, and Legion volunteers brought the remembrance cross placements there.

The history of cross placements at other Cowichan cemeteries remains unclear, but over the past 15 years there has been a revival of interest in the practice and it has been reintroduced by a new generation of volunteers at nearly all of them. The work of adding names and locations goes on.

November 2018 will therefore be the 92nd anniversary of the Cowichan Valley remembrance tradition of having armed forces cadets and other volunteers place a small, white cross, decorated with a lapel poppy and sprig of cedar and delivered with a smart uniformed salute, on the grave of every known veteran in our community cemeteries.

The public is invited to attend a cross placement or visit one of the cemeteries in which veterans’ graves will be marked, both to honour the service and sacrifice of the Valley’s veterans, and to appreciate how today’s cadets and volunteers continue to respect this 92-year-old local custom.

The schedule for 2018 Veterans’ Remembrance Cross placements will be:

Saturday, Nov. 3

St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Cowichan Station, 2475 Koksilah Road, Duncan, 11 a.m.

Saturday, Nov. 3

Starting at 1 p.m. at Shawnigan Cemetery, Shawnigan Lake, and continuing to New Heritage Museum (Mill Bay Methodist/United Church) and St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Mill Bay.

For further details, call the Mill Bay/Malahat Historical Society at 250-743-0144.

Sunday, Nov. 4

St. John the Baptist Anglican Church, Cobble Hill, immediately after the 10 a.m. service, (approximately 11:15 a.m.)

For more information, call the parish office at 250-743-3095.

Sunday, Nov. 11

St. Peter’s Quamichan Anglican Church, Duncan

For further details, call the parish office at 250-746-6262.

Cedar Memorial Gardens in Cedar (250-722-2244), Royal Canadian Legion Branch 191 in Chemainus (250-246-3133) and Royal Canadian Legion Branch 210 in Lake Cowichan (250-749-6041) have cross placement traditions as well. Please call for more information about events at those locations.

 

Cadets continue the annual tradition of placing crosses on veterans’ graves at Mountainview Cemetery on Somenos Road in North Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen file)

Just Posted

Andrea Rondeau column: I’ll beg if I have to, to get you to vote

Please, please, please mail in your vote in the proportional representation election.

Sarah Simpson column: Cowichan sure knows when to step up to help

Shortly after my birthday last year I wrote a column about gifts.… Continue reading

Cowichan United seeing positives despite results

U21 team falls to Lakehill, but coaches see improvement

T.W. Paterson column: The story behind the lost certificate, conclusion

In early March 1915 the 5th Bn. was near Estaire, France and several men had already been shot.

Cowichan Piggies pick up bonus point in close loss to James Bay

Rugby team optimistic about final games before break

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Most Read