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Thousands gather nation-wide for Remembrance Day ceremonies

Last Updated Nov 11, 2017 at 1:33 pm PDT

Victory Square in Vancouver. (Hana Mae Nassar, NEWS 1130 Photo) (Hana Mae Nassar, NEWS 1130 Photo)

People braved the elements to take part in ceremonies across Canada

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – People packed the streets of Ottawa for the largest of all the Remembrance Day ceremonies in the country.

Thousands braved the cold to pay their respects to our fallen soldiers, including many veterans like William McLachlan who served in World War II. As he watched the sombre ceremony he said he had a friend in mind. “I remember my close buddy who was killed overseas, apparently 21 of them that were heading for Sardinia, but the plane got lost and they were all killed and he’s buried over in Germany.”

Henry Decker served in World War II as well and says the ceremony was incredibly emotional for him. “I remember all the guys I served with. Some of them came back, some didn’t. As the years go by it’s a little less hard to bear — for the first 50 years, it was hard. I used to have nightmares.”

During the playing of the last post, there was a moment of silence and a flypast of jets, moving some people to tears. At the end, the public approached the National War Memorial and placed their poppies on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

This was the first Remembrance Day ceremony for new Governor General Julie Payette who wore an Air Force uniform and laid a wreath on behalf of the people of Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Asia, but his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau attended in his place instead.

Closer to home, the largest ceremony was held in Victory Square in Vancouver.

Petty Officer Scott Lorette with HMCS Discovery has been in the naval reserve for at least 35 years. He says remembering takes on a special meaning for him. “Knowing my Dad was in the Second World War and my cousins and that in the service, it means a lot to me, especially at this time of year.”

For Lorette and hundreds of others nation-wide, keeping the memories of those lost alive is vital. “If we forget, we’ll probably end up doing it all over again — fighting wars. But as long as we know that we keep their memories alive with their souls that, hopefully, we don’t have to do this ever again.”

A woman named Jean was also at Victory Square today. She says she has lost several family members in the First and Second World Wars. She explains she tries to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies every year to keep their memories alive. “It’s part of who I am — this is Remembrance Day. And it’s just not for relatives, but it’s for everybody who lost their lives so we might enjoy the freedom.”

It’s been 99 years since the First World War ended and the Remembrance Day ceremony in Vancouver at Victory Square has taken place every year for 93 years, each time people say they come to show they haven’t forgotten.