Remembrance Day in Fort Langley

From Sheila Puls

On November 11th, 1999 at 11 am, a lonely Veteran stood by the Cenotaph in Fort Langley.  Brenda Alberts, living opposite, saw him, and grabbing a prayer book she put on a coat and went over to stand with him, to say a prayer for the fallen.  Later that day she called Sheila Puls, a friend who attended the Anglican church, and asked if maybe there could be a small service at the cenotaph the following year “as no Veteran should stand alone to remember”.

Without a second thought, the answer was “of course”!, and so the following year (2000) Brenda, Sheila, St George’s Rector, St George’s organist with his keyboard, his children, and a few parishioners joined the Veteran for a simple service.

In 2001 the United Church minister took part, a trumpeter offered his services, Fraser Blues vintage aircraft team offered to do a flyby, the Lions Club offered refreshments following the service, and a couple of hundred people showed up. 

By 2002 there were others offering input.  The RCMP and Fire Department, a church choir, and the Lions Club brought in chairs for Veterans.

The numbers had grown to 1,000 by 2004 and the idea of a raised platform was implemented the following year.  Since that time the service has continued to grow until now, in 2013, we can count between 3,000 and 4,000 people attending.

It was in 2009 that the committee (consisting at that time of Brenda Alberts, Warren Sommer and Sheila Puls) were approached by a 15 year old boy who offered that he and his friends would sing a song he had written for the service.  With his mother playing the piano, he came to “audition” one afternoon at the church, and since then the incredibly moving “Souls of the Past” has been performed at the service.

This Fort Langley Remembrance Day service is a community based service, receiving no official funding.  The Committee are all volunteers, whose only aim is that “no Veteran shall stand alone to remember” at that 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  The ever-increasing attendance makes it obvious that this is filling a need.

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