As snowflakes occasionally drifted amongst those gathered by Whistler’s Cenotaph at Whistler Fire Hall #1, the crowd on hand to mark Remembrance Day eventually grew to fill the Whistler emergency services parking lot to capacity.
Brian Buchholz led the ceremony, which started just before 11 a.m. and included a flag parade featuring armed forces veterans and members of the RCMP dressed in Red Serge. A helicopter fly by followed the moment of silence to honour the memories of those lost in combat.
As part of the ceremony the Whistler Children’s Choir sang songs. Young Whistler residents also contributed to the ceremony by placing names of fallen soldiers onto simple wooden white crosses made by firefighters from donated materials given by Whistler businesses. Buchholz explained that 150 crosses were placed in the grassy area next to the Whistler Cenotaph as a visual representation of the Canadian lives lost through war.
Buchholz shared that 158 brave young Canadians have been killed in combat or some other means connected to the military actions in Afghanistan. He described the lost lives as losses the families of the soldiers will never fully recover from and a loss shared by all Canadians.
“My hope is that after these services today you will take more than a moment and read some of their names and realize that they are not forgotten names on a list but that each cross represents an individual who was a proud, brave and selfless Canadian forever lost,” said Buchholz.
The crowd listened, somber in silence and reflected as one with other British Columbians in communities across the province.
“We acknowledge the courage and we remember the sacrifice of those who have served and were lost,” Buchholz said. “And also today, we demonstrate our support for those who serve Canada today.
“Ten years ago today I spoke the names of the first Canadian casualties of the Afghan war killed at a far away and perhaps already forgotten piece of Afghanistan called Tarnak Farm,” said Buchholz as his voice waivered with emotion. “Who knew what sorrow the next ten years would bring? Ten years later, I read again these names and I also read the names of the lOst brothers in arms who have fallen in Afghanistan.”
At that point, Buchholz listed the names, honouring the soldiers who perished as part of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.
“Let the wind blow like it would on any day but today will be different, a day to remember,” said Buchholz.