By Melissa Wing
Right in the middle of town sits a small piece of land, Memorial Peace Park. It is often known as the place with the big gazebo, where local bands play and high school bands perform; it is sometimes referred to as that random patch of green space in one of the busiest parts of town; or possibly the place of the blue water fountains that borders an entrance triggers your memory.
Many things grab your attention towards this space, but there’s one that’s forgotten yearly, its importance lost in the world we’ve grown.
People go about their business and walk by it every day, not giving it a second thought. The black letters etched permanently on its surface become a blur to the eye of the passerby.
The cenotaph’s importance is dominant, yet it somehow feels invisible for the better part of each year.
Only when the leaves start to fall and the poppies and wreaths collecting at its base give it life, do we gather as a community, and as a nation, on the morning of Remembrance Day to honour those we lost for a cost we try to understand.
There’s a parade filled with emergency serviceman and woman, veterans, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts. People crowd around with gloves and umbrellas for one morning. There is a call for silence as the planes pass overhead and the gunfire sounds. Then it’s over and we all go about our days. And as the poppies blow away and the wreaths dry up, the cenotaph returns to a state of invisibility; a cold stone in the middle of Peace Park, its black letters unread by those passing by.
Stop and look on any day you pass; read those letters that form the names: John Donald McPherson, Ross Fraser Steele, Hugh Scott Davie, and others gave us peace. They are who died for our freedom, the ones we honour.
We owe them more than half a day. Even a minute more to acknowledge their name would seem a decent request to me, given their unimaginable sacrifice.
We’re growing into a patterned town where Remembrance Day is just a day off work, a day off school, and that it’s the only day we need to care.
‘Lest we Forget’ is what we say, though we truly do forget for roughly 360 days of the year.
But there is a reason we can now call ourselves “the true north strong and free.”
I challenge you, today and every day, to remember. Bring your family to the cenotaph, teach our children of this community to understand and appreciate the sacrifice that was given years ago so they can be here today, by simply reading just one name on that marble cross, and understanding what they gave.
As a community, as a country, we hold the potential to honestly say, “We Will Never Forget Them.”
Melissa Wing is a Maple Ridge secondary graduate and writer for Youthink Magazine.