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Amid pandemic, there's much we can do to honour local veterans

Sacrifices related to pandemic pale in comparison to what was asked of our parents, grandparents, spouses, and children who served and still serve
OSMH cenotaph
The cenotaph at Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital will not be crowded this year, as people have been asked to stay away due to the pandemic. But that doesn't mean we all shouldn't take time to remember on Nov. 11. OrilliaMatters File Photo

Here we are, a day before Remembrance Day 2020 and one that will be memorable for very different reasons.

It is the first in which we are being discouraged from coming to the cenotaph in our towns and cities due to the COVID pandemic.

While it is completely logical and advisable, it makes me very sad that perhaps those who served will not get that one special moment in time where they know they are seen and honoured.

I loved watching members of “the greatest generation” standing ramrod straight and marching in step through town as spectators applauded. It never failed to make me weep.

Nov. 11 was always very important to my family.

My dad was a sailor in the Royal Canadian Navy — serving as a radar gunner on minesweepers in the Second World War — who proudly served but returned with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as did so many.

My mom also was severely impacted as her first husband, who was in the Royal Canadian Air Force, was killed when his aircraft exploded in the air over Germany. He died with his entire crew and none of their bodies were ever recovered. 

That left my mother, at just 19 years old, a widow with absolutely no closure.

When my parents met after the war, it was that common trauma that bonded them for life.

I have always been intensely proud of what they did and what they overcame.

And that's perhaps why it hits me a bit more deeply that there won’t be the traditional Remembrance Day ceremonies this year.

I will miss the parades, the music, the reading of In Flanders Field, the enthusiasm of the young cadets, and the mournful playing of The Last Post.

It got me thinking of how we can still make sure all servicepeople know they are valued.

You can reach out to a veteran by phone or social media to say thank you. Maybe send a meal delivery to their door.

We can still wear a poppy, on your left side over your heart.

While veterans are not out with poppy boxes this year, they are still available in many stores and financial institutions. There are 25,000 traditional boxes nationwide, according to the Royal Canadian Legion.

New this year are approximately 250 touchless donation boxes where you just tap your credit card in $2 increments.

You can donate for a digital poppy at

You can also make a donation to your local Royal Canadian Legion branch. This is so important this year as they have also been hit hard by COVID-19. 

Legions, the site of so many social gatherings throughout the years, have been pretty much closed down.  Not much money has been made from weddings, dances, karaoke nights, or community dinners.

I know there will be online and televised services tomorrow, which we can all watch. That will be the case both nationally and locally.

The traditional two minutes of silence will still occur at 11 a.m. We can stop and mark that wherever we are.

At this difficult time in our history, we have been asked to sacrifice for the greater good. We need to wear masks, sanitize our hands and socially distance to keep our community healthy.

It pales in comparison to what was asked of our parents, grandparents, spouses, and children who served and still do.

However you choose to mark Nov. 11, I hope you will do so with great appreciation and deep love for those who fought for us.

It doesn’t matter in what manner we remember them as long as we do.


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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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