A cold November wind stroked the skin of parishioners as Rector Daniel Fournier read out the names of veterans buried in the cemetery of St. Luke Cedar Hill Anglican Church Sunday morning during a Service of Remembrance.
“John Gorden Anderson, Ernest Charles Ashton, Allan David Ballantyane…”
As Fournier read out more than 90 names, a group of children darted among the graves, as the wind lifted up fallen leafs. Silently and carefully, they placed a small, solitary rosemary bush topped by a Canadian flag on each of the graves.
“James Ince, Delbert John Irvine, Richard Johnson…”
Some 100 parishioners, many visibly deep in thought, stood and listened in silence as Fournier read the names.
“Phillip Martin Saville, George Herbert Scarrett, John Charles Durrant Scholefield…”
Once Fournier had finished the list, a trumpteer played the Last Post to usher in two minutes silence broken by Reveille.
Readings of poetry by Laurence Binyon (For the Fallen), John McCrae (In Flanders’ Fields), and Debbie Holick (In Gratitude of Silence) followed.
The playing of O Canada under a blue sky and a closing prayer concluded a service that had begun inside the church, with a reminder from Fournier that the cemetery holds a special place.
On its own, the cemetery appears just as a parcel of land that might lack meaning, he said. But the fact that it memorializes some thousand fore-bearers, ancestors, family members turns it into a deeply significant treasure filled with meaning.
“But on this this day, its importance is raised to even a higher level, because today we honour those who have gone before us, and who have put their lives on the line and served our country in times of conflict and peace,” he said. “And so how blessed we are to have this place of remembrance, this sacred place. How blessed we are to enjoy the freedom to live in such a beautiful place in such a diverse nation.
But Fournier suggests that this “gift of freedom,” earned by many paying the ultimate price, faces threats in alluding to the current climate of political instability.
“Friends, as we remember today, as we thank God for this time of encounter, we are also very aware of the context in which our world is currently in. There are certain realities that exist in our world that certainly would grieve the heart of God. We must never, never give up on the ways of peace.”