By Laura Balanko-Dickson
Westwind Weekly News
For Scott Donselaar, CAO for the Village of Stirling, Remembrance Day reminds him of fond memories shared with his grandfather, Victor Nesbit, a World War Two (WW2) aircraft mechanic for the Royal Canadian Airforce.
“My grandfather served in the Royal Canadian Airforce during WW2,” says Donselaar, “When the war first broke out he was posted in Vancouver Island and he tells this story where they believed there was a Japanese sub off the coast of Vancouver Island and they were concerned about a possible invasion force.”
“His lieutenant came into the bay for all the airplanes and yelled at my grandfather and another guy to grab a rifle and a magazine, then he posted them 10 kilometers apart from each other on the shore and said, ‘If there’s an invasion force just keep shooting until you run out of bullets.’”
While chuckling, Donselaar recalls his memories of his grandfather, “My grandfather said, ‘That’s how we started the war and it didn’t get much better from then on!’”
While November 11th reminds Donselaar of his grandfather, November 11th will also mark something a little different for residents of Stirling this year. The town received grant funding from Veterans Affairs Canada for a cenotaph and engraved benches.
Accompanying these new additions to Stirling is the first official Remembrance Day celebration organized by the Village of Stirling. The ceremony kicks off at 10:30 AM on Thursday, November 11th on the west side of the village administration building on 3rd street, with a full event on the itinerary for the day. Donselaar encourages residents of Stirling and area to join in the ceremony.
“We received grant funding from Veterans Affairs Canada for a cenotaph and some engraved benches,” says Donselaar, “we went out to source a stone (for the cenotaph) and there was a significant amount of legwork done to ensure that all the residents of the village of Stirling who have served, will be added to the cenotaph.”
According to Donselaar, the cenotaph is supposed to arrive at 9 AM on the morning of November 9th — just two days before the ceremony.
“It’s quite exciting,” says Donselaar, “This is our first official Remembrance Day ceremony. The church has done an evening ceremony in the past, but this is a time for Remembrance Day.”
“It start’s at 10:30, and goes all the way until we have the moment of silence, and we have a full itinerary.”
“We’re starting with an open prayer from Bishop Drew Walters,” says Donselaar, “then we are having the national anthem sung by the Stirling elementary school choir, then the elementary school choir is going to do a rendition of In Flander’s Fields.”
“Then, Stirling school’s Grade 5 class will be doing America’s answer to the war, we have quite a number of people who are dual-citizenship living in the area, so we added that into the itinerary.”
After the presentation from the grade 5 class, there will be a selection of dignitary remarks from the mayor of Stirling, MLA for the area, and others, leading up to the moment of silence.
“We will have a full guard posting around the cenotaph, provided by the 20th Independent Field Battery, out of Lethbridge, arranged by Major Robert Mein,” says Donselaar, “we’re going to have a full event with many dignitaries and really good military representation as well.”
“I’ll be out there,” says Donselaar, “Glenn Miller is a big believer in that remembrance doesn’t happen just one day a year and he’s said that to me many times. I’m in full agreement with him. There’s quite a number of people who answer a call, or choose to enter into a form of service to ensure that Canadian freedoms can be defended and ensured to go forward as a nation and a people, so I think it’s important to recognize that.”
“Remembrance Day is just one day we set aside, but it’s something that’s, important to have in their lives so as people move forward to understand that there are people out there that are willing to make those sacrifices and if a call-out happens there are people who will answer that call.”
“Canada has a rich history of answering a call in need, so whether it’s in war or conflict, or even in aid missions, there are a lot of people who are willing to better our society and our country in that way.”