The 2022 Remembrance Day Service was held at the SaskTel Centre on Friday, including a laying of the wreaths, music, Remembrance Parade, and readings of prayers and “In Flander’s Fields.”
The service was led by the Commanding Officer of the North Saskatchewan Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel (LCol) Dennis Sansom, CD. He has served a long career in the Canadian military, been deployed overseas and has a family history of military service.
LCol Sansom had two grandfathers participate in the First World War and two uncles in the Second World War. This legacy of service was a contributing factor for LCol Sansom to join the military. He spent 30 years in the Regular Force with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry prior to his transfer to the North Saskatchewan Regiment. He has deployed to the Middle East three times in his career.
The theme of the 2022 service was “Passing the Torch.” The “torch,” referenced in Canadian LCol John McCrae’s poem “In Flander’s Fields,” symbolizes the transfer of responsibilities in defending our freedoms from one generation of Canadian Military Veterans to the current Armed Forces members.
“Thousands of our citizens come out every year to view the ceremony here, the largest indoor service in Canada,” said Malcom Young, Vice Chair of the 2022 Saskatoon Remembrance Day Citizens Committee.
“Remembrance Day is extremely important for me because I’m a Veteran of 32-year service in the Canadian military, and as well as the fact that some of my family served this country in the military since 1900. But, more importantly, Remembrance Day is important to us as a community here in Saskatoon.”
“This is our 95th Remembrance Day service,” said Young.
“So today, we are paying compliments to two World War II Veterans, Mr. Reg Harrison, 100-year-old Veteran, 431 Squadron RCAF Bomber Command and Mr. Bob Atkinson, member of the Grenadier Guards, who is 98. Both of these gentlemen have served their country, not only in terms of overseas, but both were wounded during the Second World War conflict.”
“We all have someone who we think about in particular on this day,” said Atkinson, “I do, I know. It’s just a time of reflection.”
“If it was forgotten about now, well then all of our past sacrifices would be lost and that would be a shame. It’s just something that should be kept going.”
Harrison spoke on how it felt to be honoured in front of 6,000 people.
- Canadian Navy offers ‘no strings attached’ program amid recruitment woes
- Ottawa spends millions on 944K phone lines. Nearly a third are ‘dormant’
- Canada’s carbon pricing is going up again. What it means for your wallet
- Victim’s father files application for $22 million class-action lawsuit after Old Montreal fire
“Words can’t describe it, it’s really amazing when you think about it. I served Bomber Command, 55,000 were killed and I survived four plane crashes. I just feel I’m really lucky to be here. I often think of all the ones that never came home, never got a change to get married or raise a family.”
Read more: Sask. school Remembrance assemblies held ‘to make sure that those stories continue to be told’
Harrison has lived in Saskatoon since 1947.
“I guess you could say I’m a Saskatoonian,” said Harrison. “Here in Canada, we are really fortunate that we have a free country that can be governed by the people.”
“People in their daily lives should just stop and think how fortunate they really are to be in a free country. For some people, this is just another holiday, but for all of the families that lost loved ones, they have several Remembrance Days during the year when the loved one has a birthday or Christmas get-together. The average person never thinks of that.”
Wreaths were also laid in remembrance at the Memorial Gates on the University of Saskatchewan campus.
The Memorial Gates were unveiled in 1928 in memory of the 345 students, staff, faculty and alumni who served in the First World War and the 69 who were killed overseas.
“Today, the Memorial Gates stand as a place to honour the lives and the stories of those who have served our country, at home and abroad,” said Cheryl Hamelin, Vice President, University Relations.
“Today, and on all days, we remember and honour all those who have proudly served and sacrificed for our country.”
“In Flander’s Fields” was read by the university’s Student Union President, Abhineet Goswami, before the wreaths were laid.