The following was a CreComm journalism assignment I wrote on November 11, 2009. I think it’s one of the best stories I’ve ever written, and I’ll let it speak for itself…
Remembrance Day at the Minto Armouries was celebrated by hundreds of sombre men, women, and children. They crowded the main floor and filled the balcony, eager to find a decent spot to watch the ceremony. Military personnel wearing formal uniforms, camouflage, and kilts stood in formation and awaited instructions. Many people in the audience wept throughout the ceremony, especially during the moments of silence.
Sgt. Smith, from the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, quietly explained that attendance at this year’s ceremony was down.
“There are fewer people this year than last, and I believe that is directly related to H1N1,” he said. “But since our troops entered Afghanistan in 2002, many more people have started coming. I’ve attended for 35 years, and it’s moving to see that people care enough to come to a ceremony.”
The young Air Cadets were among the many uniformed personnel who stood in formation on the main floor. Trevor Malcolm, a former cadet instructor, explained that his favourite part of the ceremony was watching the youths break formation.
“We count every year,” he explained. “They have to stand at attention for the whole ceremony, and many start to get dizzy and sick. They are instructed to go down on one knee when they can’t stand anymore, and someone comes to get them.” A number of officers swarmed the area, waiting to rescue anyone who began to sway.
In total, 28 white-faced cadets were removed during the ceremony.
“We think it’s a metaphor,” said Malcolm’s wife, Nancy. “They drop so quickly. But, in an actual war or conflict, that’s how quickly a soldier dies. One second they are fine, the next they are dead. It’s sad… so very sad.”
“It’s easy to forget about Remembrance Day, if you sit at home and don’t get involved,” she added. “But it’s important for everyone not to forget. These are our people, this is our history, and if we forget we’re destined to repeat the past.”
Note: All of the above names have been changed.