Compared to previous years, it was just as dismal and cold as it was 101 years ago during the morning when the orders to stand down began to make their way through the trenches on both sides of the fighting in northern France. While Canadian Private George Lawrence Price still has his place in the history books as the last man to die (from a sniper’s bullet two minutes before the 11 AM Armistice) during a war that killed millions of people around the globe, Monday morning’s 21-gun salute served to remind us all that the fighting never really stopped following a war that was supposed to end all wars. As ever, hundreds of people shared a cold and solemn moment as the trumpet played ‘The Last Post’ following the traditional two minutes of silence that marks the beginning of the day’s ceremonies.
“It’s very important wearing the poppy to remember...to take that moment to reflect,” said Anthony Bruce who is a retired sergeant with the Canadian Grenadier Guards.
After two helicopters did a fly-by over the downtown ceremony, a bosun’s whistle ‘piped the side’ with a four second ‘low’ followed by a four second ‘high’ with another ‘low’ to follow. While the navy’s centuries – old signal provides an audible signature of the navy’s presence and its contribution to the fight that defined Canada’s part in the desperate battle of the Atlantic, Montreal’s sailors hope that the bosun’s whistle will become a regular part of the city’s annual Remembrance ceremony.
According to NDG councillor Peter McQueen, it was nice to see the federal Liberals show the flag during the city’s ceremony. Justice Minister David Lametti joined former Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, local MP Marc Miller and newly elected MP Stephan Guilbeault lay a wreath at the cenotaph. Others, including McQueen and Verdun Councillor Sterling Downey joined Mayor Plante as she laid the city’s wreath at the foot of the city’s war monument.
“At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month today,” wrote the mayor on a recent social media post, “...let’s take a moment to remember the courage of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us and for our future.”