COVID — It has everyone afraid to speak their mind in fear of what their fellow citizens might say or do. Will they jump down your throat if you share a genuinely held belief about the current circumstances? Unfortunately, the answer is you don’t really know — so most just don’t talk.
For those courageous enough to go on the record, a different narrative begins to emerge — not all Legions are on board with the hollowed out versions of Remembrance Day this year.
Woodstock Legion — After speaking with the President of the Woodstock Legion Ian, I learnt something interesting after voicing my frustrations – he was frustrated too. After discussing how they were working in conjunction with the Board of Health and the city, Ian informed us that their ceremony would take place at Goff Hall this year.
It would also be limited to only 50 people Ian told us, “we put the call out to all the veterans who wanted to show up and we had to limit it to the 50”. He then informed me Rogers would be broadcasting the ceremony. Ian also informed Diverge Media that he told the city that “we can not deter people from going to the cenotaph this year.”
I voiced my frustration
After Ian informed me they wouldn’t be holding the Remembrance day ceremony at the cenotaph because of COVID I voiced my frustration with the situation. I told him “I understand the decision a little bit, but I got to be honest personally I’m very disappointed.” Ian fired back “don’t get me wrong, I am too.”
I continued; “I don’t know what’s going on but I was in contact with a Kitchener-Waterloo Legion, and the president there basically told me they were being told to not really announce they were going ahead with the ceremony. The kind of memo I got was he said I don’t know how your going to really keep people from going but they’re basically just trying to ghost the event and not really advertise it to keep it low.”
Ian responded; “What I told the city was we cannot deter people from going to the cenotaph this year. The Woodstock Legion is going to put a cross out there and also I’m gonna take a wreathe there that morning and we’re gonna set the wreathe up and were gonna set a cross up. So people can, usually after the ceremonies people put their poppies on the cross — we’re gonna do that this year as well.
He then touched on COVID
“Unfortunately this COVID has put a lot of people in, you know a lot of people are scared. Like personally, I’d rather have everything at the cenotaph — but I’m not allowed to. I then told Ian about a recent article I had written with the view that stated if we can pack 200 plus into a Walmart indoors — then we can find a way to safely hold an outdoor Remembrance Day ceremony to honour our veterans.
I told him — “listen if you can go into Walmart, 200 at a time indoors, then we can certainly hold an outdoor event. Why not socially distance the veterans, why not make sure the most vulnerable are protected — we can do all that but it seems as though our politicians are finding excuses, not solutions.”
Ian responded — “I agree 100 per cent with ya, I do, honestly I do. Like last year we had between 3000 and 4000 people, I think there was like 3600 people at the cenotaph last year. The city says well we can’t have that many there that’s way over our limit. And now they’re even bugging me because I got you know, the 50 maybe 51 people going to the hall here in town for it, and they say well you can’t have anymore than that due to COVID, and we got to scan everybody and you know, It’s making a big deal out of nothing. People know, they’re gonna wear their masks right — people aren’t stupid.
No greater irony
I agreed and told Ian “I can’t think of a greater irony than the sacrifices that were made for freedom and then being told and treated like children to not be able to make those decisions ourselves.” Ian agreed. He than told Diverge Media that Victoria Park is big enough in Woodstock to be able to hold the event socially distanced at the park for about two to three thousand people.
Ian told us he had to cut back on everything — and we just don’t think that’s right. In closing out our conversation together Ian told us that he himself served for five years in the Canadian Armed Forces — we thanked him. I then told him that I would continue to make a stink about this and that I would “go down swinging.” He thanked us for pushing to have people out at the cenotaph.
More to come on this story as it continues to develop. We have spoken with many representatives from legions all around Ontario — and will continue updating this story as they get in touch with us.
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