CHESTERMERE – Last November, the first ever Remembrance Day ceremony was held in Chestermere. The service, which saw nearly 250 people in attendance, exceeded the expectations of the local Cenotaph Committee, who had organized it on short notice.
This year, the committee has taken extra measures to ensure the everyone is accommodated come Nov. 11, in terms of proper seating and a better sound system.
The ceremony will take place once again at Anniversary Park, across from the recreation centre.
This years ceremony will feature a poetry reading, music from the Chestermere High School Band, as well as from a choir and a soloist.
Members of the local RCMP will be in attendance once again, and the Rocky View Fire Department will likely be marching over to take part in the ceremony as well. Members of the local cadets, boy scouts and girl guides will also be in attendance.
“The ceremony will be similar in structure, but more mature for it’s second try,” said Cenotaph Committe chair Shawn McKenzie. “We’ve made some improvements, and hope to comfortably accommodate the large crowd.”
McKenzie said that they will have bleachers set up, with benches in the front for seniors.
The ceremony will begin at 10:45 a.m., so those attending are asked to come around 10:30 a.m. The ceremony will run until shortly after 11 a.m.
A Veterans Food Bank contribution box will be set up to collect non-perishables food items. Parking will be available at the recreation centre.
Anyone interested in laying a wreath on behalf of their family or business can contact the Calgary Poppy Fund to order one. Wreaths can be picked up on Mondays, so the final pick up date is Nov. 4.
Following the Remembrance Day ceremony, there will be a special viewing of the two cenotaph models that are being considered for Chestermere. The viewing will be held at the recreation centre.
Both models will be set up or the public to view, and ballots will be available so people can cast a vote specifying which model they prefer. Cenotaph committee members will be on hand to answer questions about the models.
Anyone who can’t make it to this viewing will be able to see the models at town hall for the month of November. Ballots can also be cast there.
McKenzie said that the two models are wildly different, but both are worth taking a look at. He said that once the preferred model is specified, the committee will be able to move forward in terms of getting together the proper funding to make a local cenotaph a reality.
“We’re very pleased with response from the artists,” McKenzie said. “They’re quite high quality, and they really speak to the vision we have for it.”
McKenzie said that getting the ball rolling on a local cenotaph has been a team effort by both the committee and by the community as a whole.
“The community has really responded more than we expected,” he said. “We saw it especially with the Remembrance Day ceremony last year.
“We didn’t spend a lot of time marketing it, and we thought we would get 25 people, and we got 250. It was an enormous response and was totally out of proportion to what we were expecting.”
McKenzie said that what makes Chestermere unique, is that the community is putting together a cenotaph without even having a list of war-dead to commemorate.
“Chestermere doesn’t have a list,” he said. “We’re doing this because there has been so much community response, and because it is the right thing to do.”
McKenzie said that one of the cenotaph artists he spoke to said that the kind of maturity that Chestermere has shown with the project is almost unheard of.
The Cenotaph Committee was founded by a local veteran, Ray Hessler, a little over a year ago. The group now consists of around 10 dedicated volunteers.
Contributions to the local cenotaph are being accepted, as a charitable foundation has now been set up in it’s name. Anyone wishing to make a contribution can contact Shawn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Receipts will be issued by the Town of Chestermere to anyone who makes a contribution.
Chestermere’s second annual Remembrance Day ceremony will take place on Nov. 11 at Anniversary Park. It will begin at 10:45 a.m., but attendees are asked to be there by 10:30.