Candlelight ceremony celebrates freedom

The glow of hundreds of candles reflected off of veterans’ gravestones on the evening of Oct. 9.
The Ponoka Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion had its first candlelight tribute ceremony to celebrate the efforts of all veterans who fought for freedom.

  • Oct. 15, 2008 10:00 a.m.

Cheyeanne Rowan

The glow of hundreds of candles reflected off of veterans’ gravestones on the evening of Oct. 9.

The Ponoka Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion had its first candlelight tribute ceremony to celebrate the efforts of all veterans who fought for freedom.

The Candlelight Tribute Ceremony began in the Netherlands to honour those who had liberated the country and its people from German occupation and remember all they had done in the Second World War.

In 1955, the Dutch held a special ceremony commemorating 50 years of liberation and children placed lit candles on the graves of Canadian soldiers which remained lit overnight.

Today, candlelight tributes have become annual ceremonies across Europe and North America.

Dorothy Houghton, president of the Legion, began the ceremony with a few words on the First World War, Second World War and Korean War veterans.

Candles and matches were offered to the crowd as they lined up to offer their respect to the men and women who served their country.

Dozens of people of all ages knelt at the graves to light candles in honour of each individual veteran and took time to remember what they did for the country and the world.

Diane Morrow took her daughter Haylee DeJonge to the ceremony where DeJonge’s great-grandpas Donald Churchill and Archie Morrow are buried and believes it is important to light candles in memory of those who served.

“It’s very beautiful to come and see this,” said Morrow. “I wanted my daughter to come and experience this, it’s good for her to understand what this means.”

Carol Morris, also lit candles in honour of her dad and stepfather, and feels that recognizing these men and women is essential.

“It’s really important that we appreciate the people who fought for our freedom,” said Morris. “I’m glad the candlelight ceremony has come to this country.”

The ceremony continued with a minute of silence, music, a pledge of remembrance and the act of remembrance.

The pledge of remembrance was read to put into perspective the heart and soul that was put into serving the country.

“They were young, as we are young,

They served, giving freely of themselves.

To them, we pledge, amid the winds of time,

To carry their torch and never forget.

We will remember them.”

A laying of the wreathe on behalf of the youth of Canada was also performed at the ceremony and ended with the national anthem.

Houghton was pleased with the turnout and the number of young people that came and hopes to have another candlelight service next year.

“It was absolutely excellent,” said Houghton. “We had about 75 people come to the ceremony and it was great to see children and young people here as well. Our main objective is to get the youth involved. It was great and we hope to make this a tradition.”

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