As luck might have it, today was the dedication of the new Patricia Park in the Griesbach neighbourhood right next to ours, dedicated to Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Two battalions are stationed at the nearby Edmonton Garrison, and much of the regiment was on parade today; I would guess somewhere around 200 serving members plus a number of individuals in civilian dress but wearing their medals or berets.
Short speeches spoke not of the many accomplishments of the regiment, nor of battle honours won, but of the sacrifices needed at times of war and unrest, from its inception at the start of WWI, through to those lost in WWII, Korea, the Cold War, the Balkans and Afghanistan. Representatives from the provincial and city governments, as well as Edmonton City Police and RCMP "K" Division laid wreaths at a centerpiece adorned with the regimental crest. Gratitude was expressed to the support given by the city and its residents, especially those of the Griesbach and Castle Downs neighbourhoods. I also appreciated the Chaplain explicitly inviting those who may not be believers to perhaps take a moment to reflect, when he asked those who believed to join him in prayer.
Remembrance should not be a solely intellectual exercise; it should involve community and recognition on a face to face or eye to eye level wherever possible, whether with those in uniform or our neighbours. I wonder sometimes if the discontent that some people have with Remembrance Day and the traditional red poppy stems from the professional army of today overshadowing the volunteer army of yesteryear, but it doesn't matter. The freedoms fought for and gained by our veterans include the right for individuals to treat this day as any other, and the opinion that somehow our November observances have moved beyond commemoration and into glorification is just as entitled to protection as any other I don't agree with. At least those who wear the white poppy seem to agree how important it is that we not forget.
August 10, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, and there will be a ceremony at Patricia Park that will include depositing a time capsule where the wreaths were laid today, to be opened in 50 years. I hope we can be present for that as well.
In anticipation of the anniversary, a song was commissioned about the regimental camp flag, the "Ric-a-dam-doo" (allegedly Gaelic for "cloth of they mother") which was actually hand-made by Princess Patricia of Connaught herself. The song was written by Bryan Adams and performed by the wives of the regiment, who call themselves Homefire.