It’s still important to remember on Nov. 11, pandemic or not, says Paul Robinson, branch padre of Royal Canadian Legion Br. 153.
“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them,” said Robinson during Tillsonburg’s Remembrance Day ceremony, reciting the Ode of Remembrance from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen.
“Today, on this the 102nd anniversary of the end of World War I, we gather to honour those valiant Canadians who died, and who continue to die, in so many conflicts around the globe that we might live in peace,” said Robinson. “It is also – it must be – a day of dedication in which we resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain.
“We will remember them,” said Robinson, who after the ceremony shared his thoughts on the importance of continuing to observe Remembrance Day – even during a COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is absolutely, thoroughly crucial. It’s poignant, it’s meaningful, it’s part of our psyche, it’s who we are. It’s what we do, and it’s what we have to keep on honouring. And it’s not just (honouring) those who died. Kay Tully, who was here with us today, within 15 minutes of hearing the frontline guns, at one point somebody came and said ‘Girls, we need to move.’ They had to pull out because the guns were coming. So many people risked. It’s that willingness to give your all for what is important, that’s what we honour. And we need to honour that in our lives of peace.”
Tillsonburg’s Remembrance Day ceremony has grown in recent years, but the 2020 ceremony was one of the smallest. Many watched online from home, but Robinson said he hopes the crowds come back when it is safer to do so.
“I think there’s something about the dynamics of a whole host of people doing it together. I think that’s what we discovered during COVID, we are made to be together… the socialization, connection. So I think it impacts it in some ways, but in others it is as meaningful as ever. I certainly felt it today and I trust others did too.
“It’s a message we need to hear. We have to keep doing this, COVID or not. You can’t lose the message. It goes right back to that poem (In Flanders Fields by John McCrae).”
‘Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high… If ye break faith with us who die, we shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.’
“Hold on to the truth,” said Robinson. “Stand up for those things, don’t get complacent. I think COVID has made us pre-occupied, it’s distracted us, but we can’t let go…”