Glowing candles were placed by young and old, row upon row at the God’s Acre veterans cemetery in Esquimalt, Thursday (May 25) evening.
At the candlelight tribute, the flames burned from around 6:45 p.m until midnight.
The community turnout for the event grew from last year, especially from youth.
“To see cadet organizations, navy league, scouts in particular here, I think is wonderful,” said Capt. Jeffery Hutchinson, base commander for Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt and guest speaker at the ceremony. ”First, Second World War, and the Korean War, you can see that some of those veterans are passing. Their ability to tell stories, personally their time is running out. So, the more opportunity we have to help teach the junior members of our community to remember the sacrifices that were made, we want to take those chances.”
The tradition first started in 1995 in the Netherlands before it moved to Canada. It was a part of the 50th anniversary of the country’s liberation by Canadian forces during the Second World War. Ceremony attendees were greeted with a colour party followed by the sounds of bag pipes from the Canadian Scottish Regimental Association Pipe Band.
With the tribute’s interactive nature, brief length and enticing sweet treats afterwards, Hutchinson added that “it helps particularly youth to remember the sacrifice made to allow them to have the freedoms they have today in Canada.”
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins also had a great emphasis of youth involvement.
“It’s so important to bring young and old together, so those memories carry on and that we don’t forget.”
Retired Chief Petty Officer from the Royal Canadian Navy Barry Freeman’s parents are buried in the cemetery because his father was a veteran in the First World War. He explained that his mother had the opportunity to be buried next to her husband because the veterans cemetery let “the wives of fallen soldiers be placed in the cemetery beside them as long as their marker wasn’t superior in some way to the solders.”
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