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Listowel Legion planning virtual Remembrance Day service

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 259 announced this week that it will be conducting a small Remembrance Day service at the Listowel cenotaph on Nov. 11 that will be attended primarily by invitees in order to adhere by COVID-19-related physical distancing guidelines and capacity restrictions. (Dan McNee file photo)

Organizers discourage spectators from attending Listowel Cenotaph due to pandemic restrictions

NORTH PERTH – It should come as little surprise that North Perth’s Remembrance Day services will not be taking place in their traditional capacities in 2020.

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 259 announced this week that it will be conducting a private service at the Listowel cenotaph on Nov. 11 that will be attended primarily by members and other invitees in order to adhere by COVID-19-related physical distancing guidelines. The Listowel Legion will be taking into account the parameters outlined by Royal Canadian Legion Command, with the service not including a veteran’s parade or Canadian Armed Forces parade, as well as a reduced colour party.

“For the first time, spectators will be discouraged from attending in person,” said Listowel Legion President Sherry Hamilton. “The smaller number of people participating will be required to remain two metres apart, and will need to wear masks unless performing certain duties relating to the ceremony.”

There will also be no local Air Cadets present standing vigil at the cenotaph, and wreaths will be pre-positioned to minimize contacts. Rev. Ralph Dwarika will be conducting a short service for those in attendance, with the presentation available live on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. via the Listowel Legion’s Facebook page.

“On Nov. 11, Canadians are asked to pause for a moment of silence to honour and remember the men and women who have served and continue to serve Canada in times of war, conflict and peace,” Hamilton added. “We remember more than 2,300,000 Canadians who have served throughout our nation’s history, and the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Hamilton said that the Legion will be conducting an 11-hour ‘stand of respect’ beginning at 6 a.m. at the cenotaph on Nov. 11, when representatives will take one-hour shifts while presenting the colours. A soup and sandwich meal will follow the morning service at the Legion, with the public encouraged to attend. The bar will be open but capacity restrictions will be in place at both levels of the Listowel Legion.

“It’s something new that we just thought would be something respectful,” she said of the different looks to this year’s Remembrance Day services. “History matters. We really feel that this is our biggest day, and it’s not going to go unforgotten.

“Every year we want it to get bigger and bigger. But there’s nothing we can do about it, and we’re just making the best of it. It’s a matter of recognition.”

The Royal Canadian Legion’s annual Poppy Drive officially gets underway on Oct. 30, with poppies being distributed to area homes via mass mail, including donation information. Poppies will also be sold at the Legion itself, and Beer Store and LCBO locations.

Atwood Cenotaph service going virtual

There will also be no in-person Remembrance Day service at the Atwood Cenotaph for 2020.

Organizers said that a small internal service will be conducted and presented online via YouTube on Sunday, Nov. 8.

Details are forthcoming, with local ministers planning on overseeing the laying of wreaths, the playing of The Last Post, and the traditional reading of the roll containing the names of local soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.