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Scaled-back ceremony allows Nelson to honour veterans during COVID-19

Nelson Daily Staff
By Nelson Daily Staff
November 11th, 2020

It was ceremony was like none other due to the COVID-19 pandemic as a few dozen spectators wearing masks stood social distancing surrounding the Cenotaph at the City Hall Courtyard in Nelson Wednesday to observe Remembrance Day 2020.

Emceed by Doug Wood of the Nelson Legion Branch 51, local veterans were joined by first responders, Legion members as well as the Kootenay Kiltie Pipe Band to celebrate those who gave their lives in service to Canada in wars during the past century, soldiers who ensured freedom while helping to build this country.

The ceremony, forced to cancel the traditional parade from the Legion to the cenotaph, was streamed on the Nelson Legion Branch 51 and streamed by Anthony Sanna of The Nelson Daily due to The Royal Canadian Legion asking the public not to attend the Remembrance Day Ceremony in person.

A social distancing crowd surrounded veterans and honour guard during Wednesday's 2020 Remembrance Day Ceremony in Nelson. 

In a normal year, thousands would fill Ward Street/Highway 3A to watch the parade and pay tribute to war heroes in person.

The ceremony started with the singing of O' Canada before L.V. Rogers music teacher Justin Ratzburg played Last Post.

Two minutes of silence was observed to focus on the veterans honour guard.

Nelson Legion Branch 51 President Bill Andreschuck read the Act of Remembrance before Salvation Army Branch Padre, Michelle Cale, recited a prayer honouring veterans.

Nelson Mayor John Dooley spoke of the sacrifices of veterans and the importance of the public to continue to pay tribute to them today, and every day, and work to keep them safe during COVID-19.

"And (I'd like to) say going forward, we have the responsibility to every one of our veterans . . .  many of whom are in the later years of their lives to continue to be diligent in this trying time that we’re in, which is to say the least, seems to be hard on all of us but is nothing compared to what (veterans) had to face over the years throughout Europe and throughout the world to help us with our liberty and our community," Mayor Dooley said.

The many wreaths donated every year, that were placed at the cenotaph prior to the ceremony, had sponsors read out by Wood.

Nelson Legion President Andreschuck placed an honourary wreath at the cenotaph before the ceremony closed with the siging of God Save the Queen.

In closing Wood, paid tribute to the countless hours of work by medical staff during these COVID-19 times.

"A special thank you to our medical staff for their hard work and dedication."

B.C. Premier John Horgan said in a prepared statement this year, the best way we can honour veterans is by attending virtual ceremonies and keeping ourselves and our community safe.

“For generations, Canadians have bravely risked their lives to protect ours,” Premier Horgan said.

“They have sacrificed so much to build a better world. Let’s pay tribute to them today and every day by doing everything we can to keep ourselves and others safe – and build our province back stronger than ever.

“Lest we forget.”

The Kootenay Kiltie Pipe Band joined the honour guard for the ceremony.

L.V. Rogers music teacher Justin Ratzburg saluted veterans with Last Post.

Nelson Legion Branch 51 President Bill Andreschuck placed an honourary wreath at the cenotaph before the ceremony closed with the siging of God Save the Queen.

One of the wreaths was placed at the cenotaph in memory of J.A. Paterson.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the public was asked to watch the ceremony streamed live on the Nelson Legion Branch 51 Facebook page and shared on The Nelson Daily Facebook page.

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