On November 11, Remembrance Day, the city's residents along with city council members and Members of Parliament and Members of Alberta's Legislature, all gathered at Genesis Place to bow their heads in solemn contemplation, to remember.
On this day, Genesis Place, the city's recreational center which is usually bustling and filled with noise, was still and silent as Airdronians bowed their heads during two minutes of silence, remembering and reflecting on all the men and women who have served Canada and paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Airdrie-Banff, MP Blake Richards who spoke on the solemn occasion said that during World War I more than 66,000 Canadians died in the First World war, while over 44 thousand laid down their lives during World War II. He reminded those gathered the numbers are not simply numerals or names on memorials, they were fellow Canadians who so many years ago laid down their lives for something greater than themselves and did so, so that generations of Canadians after would be able to reap the benefits of living in a safe and free country.
"They were someone's brother or sister, mother and father, son or daughter. They were young men and women who had hopes and dreams that were never realized," he said. "[They did so] so you and I, can continue to enjoy freedom. It's a debt that we can never repay."
While the stands at Genesis place were filled to the brim, dotted with poppies on lapels, there were also veterans from various military regiments military disciplines who attended the ceremony.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Al Price, an Airdrie resident, also spoke during the ceremony. He told the story of Master Corporal Mark “Izzy” Isfeld. Isfeld was serving as a peacekeeper in the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Croatia when he had an encounter with a child that seemed to be looking through the rubble for their toy doll. Corporal Isfeld then decided that he would start knitting small dolls as a way to bring comfort to children in conflict zones. Isfeld would be killed by a landmine on June 21, 1994. After his death, his mother continued the legacy and would knit more dolls. To date, it is estimated that 1.3 million dolls have been given to children worldwide as a symbol of comfort.
Price, who also spoke to Discover Airdrie earlier in the week said that Remembrance Day is indeed a time to reflect on the sacrifices others have made to their country, but he also underlined, that it is a time to also be thankful for what kind of a country we live in. Like many other veterans that Discover Airdrie spoke to, they all stressed that Canadians have never known the toll or trauma of war in their own backyards, nor has war come to Canada's borders.
"We're allowed to go to school, we have our parents at home, and we have a nice house. There are lots of kids in the world that don't have those opportunities at all. There are lots of kids who are afraid to go to bed at night because they don't know if they're going to wake up or if their parents are going to wake up in the morning. All that we have doesn't come free," Price said previously.
RCMP Inspector Lauren Weire who was also in attendance said that Remembrance Day is a day to show gratitude to all those who have served and continue to serve Canada.
"More than 2 million Canadians have served in uniform since Confederation and more than 120,000 Canadians have made the ultimate sacrifice during times of war, including members of the RCMP. The RCMP has a long and proud history of serving alongside Canadian Forces, in wars and peacekeeping missions," she said. "The RCMP continues to participate in international peacekeeping operations, protecting the rights of others around the world. To our veterans here today, it is because of your courage and the sacrifices you've made in serving our country that has allowed Canadians the purpose of living in peace. Thank you for your service. We will remember."
In keeping with tradition, the President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 288 in Airdrie, Jasen Hoffman read out the famous poem by John McCrae, In Flander Fields. City officials and political dignitaries, along with law enforcement laid wreaths at the cenotaph.
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