I started writing this blog post before heading out to the Kitchener Remembrance Day Parade this morning. I am a drummer in the Ceremonial Band of the Waterloo Regional Police Service. My inspiration for writing this morning was to say why it was important to me to be there today. Although I hit “publish” I pulled it back wondering if something would inspire me at the ceremony to go beyond platitudes. Well guess what … I was inspired.
The first thing I noticed happened when we were marching up King St towards the ceremony. All along the route there were police officers on patrol to watch over us. I’m sure the recent and tragic events in Ottawa is leaving all ceremonies across Canada in a heightened state of awareness to keep everyone safe. But it was comforting to have our Police officers watching over all of those who attended today to ensure we were kept safe as we honoured our military.
When we arrived at the cenotaph I noticed all of the vets around us. There were vets of all ages, but the one thing I consistently see with them is a dedication to honour their comrades. The thing about vets though is you never see one stand down. We frequently see others such as cadets, or the general public have a problem from standing in one spot so long. Sometimes they are carried away as they have fainted or are having some other such problem. But these sometimes frail looking older guys never sway from their spots. It seems their duty and respect to their country and comrades is as strong today as it was all those years ago when they advanced on some conflict in a far away land.
When someone was having a medical problem during the ceremony the Region of Waterloo MedVents tended to her. I was kind of half watching them and the ceremony, and they ended up calling EMS. It wasn’t long before I could hear the wail of the siren of EMS as they responded to the call to look after this participant.
I noticed the general public. I’ve participated in countless ceremonies like this since I first joined the band around 30 years ago. Although I will be the first to admit I may not remember the details from year to year, I can say with confidence the crowd is swelling with each year. This year the area around the Kitchener Cenotaph seemed packed with the public. People seemed to be perched on some vantage point as the crowd was simply that deep. Regardless of what drove that heightened participation … it was heart-warming to experience.
At the end of the ceremony we were brought to attention and turned to march away. The parade commander came to the front of the parade and took up his position. They removed the barricades and the crowd in front of the parade parted. Then on the loud speakers they played Highway of Hero’s (next to our national anthem this is likely the most patriotic Song I know). If you don’t know the reference just Google it. I believe we Canadian’s honour our hero’s unlike any other nation in the world!
We waited in place at the Cenotaph until the song Highway of Hero’s was winding down. During the song the crowd around me started singing the Lyric’s to the song. I will admit this hit me, and I had a few tears welling up. As the song wound down to it’s last few notes we got our command to march off “Parade … by the Centre Quick March!”. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt more proud than today. It might be the recent tragic events in Ottawa. It might be that my cousin has served with honour in our Armed Forces. It might just be that I’m becoming a bigger softy. Regardless of the reason …
I am proud to say I’m Canadian. More importantly I want to thank each and every person who chooses to put on a uniform and serve us! I talk about choosing your reality … I don’t know of a better example!
Lovely words Mike. I too was holding it together until “Highway of heroes” came on.
It was an honour to participate and witness today the crowd and the service.
It felt wrong to be clapped for as we walked in, as the ones who deserved that were the ones being honoured.
Proud to march with you.