Over 500 bright red poppies dotted the veterans’ grave sites in Lakeview Cemetery standing out in sharp contrast to the grey headstones and light dusting of snow Wednesday morning.
A handful of students from KVR Middle School walked with soldiers of the B.C. Dragoons reading the names of the men and women before placing the colourful symbol of remembrance on their final resting places.
This year an estimated 7,000 students from coast-to-coast and the territories will have left over 40,000 poppies on grave sites in more than 100 cemeteries including Lakeview in Penticton.
This year also marked the first time an overseas ‘No Stone Left Alone’ ceremony was held. It took place Sept. 1 in Poland.
“It’s important to recognize the soldiers who fought for what we have today,” said KVR student Sabine Combres who walked through a large part of the cemetery with friend Kylie Tomm and Cpl. Bryce Desmarais placing poppies every place they stopped.
Prior to the placement of the small flowers, operations officer Capt. Jeff Daley talked to the students and others who were gathered for the ceremony.
“All of us who have served in the military, past and present, ask for just one small thing, that you remember our service and then silently, or even better actually saying to somebody ‘thank you.’ Say it out loud.
“You may have heard the phrase lest we forget, it really means you must never forget those who protected our freedoms or ever forget what they did for you and me. Lest we forget.”
Along with actively serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the students, veterans and members of the Royal Canadian Legion also take part in the No Stone Left Alone ceremonies.
“This is veterans week, leading up to Remembrance Day, and we all do the Remembrance Day ceremony for sure. We understand that and all the schools do a fantastic program,” said Daley. “The reason we go to the cemeteries is because sometimes those cemeteries are forgotten and those soldiers, or airmen, crewmen who are interned in the cemeteries, they need to be remembered as well.”
Having served overseas on more than one occasion, Daley always recalls what it is like when he comes home.
“I’ve been to places where kids, people families do not get the same liberties we have and every time I come back home, oh, do we ever live in an awesome place,” he said. “I think this (ceremony) is going to be the new norm and I think every year we should be doing this.”
Once again this year there will be two Remembrance Day services in Penticton both beginning about 10:30 a.m.
There will be the Royal Canadian Legion indoor ceremonies with the parade to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre as well as an outdoor ceremony organized by the Army, Navy Air Force Veterans in Canada (ANAVETS) at the Cenotaph at Veterans Memorial Park on Main Street.