INNISFAIL - Under welcomed blue skies but bitter cold, Innisfailians gave a heartfelt salute to their greatest heroes during a moving 45-minute Remembrance Day ceremony that honoured heroic sacrifices of the past and present.
“To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high,” recited 12-year-old Innisfail student Ava Helton at the service from the famous war poem In Flanders Field.
And then came the reading of the Roll of Honour for a full score of heroes. This was followed by the sonorous salute of The Last Post, the ringing of church bells and the wail of bag pipes by Pipe Major Tyler Wallace of the Innisfail Legion Pipe Band.
After the laying of wreaths, four local planes graced the sky with a flypast.
Before ending the service, Legion Padre Ralph Warnock dedicated the new cenotaph plaque that honours Canadian peacekeepers and those that served in Afghanistan.
The service ended with the playing of God Save the King, and an announcement of get-togethers inside the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #104.
The most memorable one was the public presentation an hour later by Stephen Black, the president of the Innisfail Legion, that served Innisfail and area citizens notice their heroes – past, present and future - will be honoured with an ambitious mural project that will showcase the community’s pride in perpetuity; a project aimed to involve the community and to ensure the youth of today and tomorrow never forget veterans’ ultimate sacrifice.
“We saw how The Coffee Cottage mural brought the community together and how everyone was down looking at it and how it took shape over the summer,” said Black. “We took it to the executive, and they were 100 per cent behind it.”
WATCH THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE REMEMBRANCE DAY SERVICE:
The mural will be done by Calgary artist Karen Scarlett, a former longtime Innisfailian who spearheaded the immensely successful Welcome Mural last summer next door to the Legion at The Coffee Cottage.
Scarlett was joined at the presentation by Jason Heistad, a member of the Innisfail Welcoming & Inclusive Community Committee, which has taken the lead in the community this year for the promotion of public art.
“I am super thrilled. "The Legion just has such a long history, not just in Innisfail but in Canada, and it's pretty exciting to be able to do such a big piece,” said Scarlett, whose preliminary artistic vision is to have murals of poppies and ghost-like silhouettes of soldiers from wars past on the south and west exterior walls of the downtown branch. “We've discussed how we can include members and the community at large.
“I think that's a big reason why the Welcome Mural was so successful. So many people felt included in it,” she added. “I think that's a really great piece if we could bring the community out to help with it again or be involved in some way.”
Citizens attending the Legion presentation immediately responded to the proposed mural project with unprecedented enthusiasm and generosity.
Black said citizens committed $14,000 on Nov. 11 for the project, which now has a tentative budget of about $40,000.
“That's just speaks a lot for our community. I knew it was going to be a good project and people would get behind it,” said Black, who will lead a community-driven committee that will oversee the project, including additional fundraising and a tentative start date of next summer. “It’s not just the Legion. It's for people from the general public, from Innisfail and even from the surrounding area.
“If they want to be involved with this, they can get in touch with me.”