FLASHBACK: 50 years ago in Powell River

The article below and accompanying photos were originally published in the Powell River News on November 13, 1969.

Veterans gather in rain to remember

article continues below

Led by a group of about 50 veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea and their colour party, Powell River’s Remembrance Day parade wound its way from Arbutus Avenue and Sycamore Street to Dwight Hall, through a thick drizzly rain.

March music was provided by MacMillan Bloedel pipes and drums. Rain was so penetrating it made the pipers’ reeds warble.

Other marchers included contingents from local sea cadets, army cadets and air cadets.

About 150 spectators braved the rain to line the route and attend both church and wreath laying services.

Old soldiers’ favourites “Onward, Christian Soldiers”, “God of Our Fathers” and “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” got strong vocal support during church service.

Reverend D. Chassels, Legion padre, asked a pointed question in his sermon: “Is the name ‘veteran’ becoming a dirty word? The issues were clear cut during the last world war,” he said. “Are they as clear cut in Vietnam?”

Here is the context of his sermon:

“We are gathered here today to remember the dead of the wars, in which our country has been engaged in this century. Let us recall them to our minds then: recall them in all the freshness and vigor of the prime in which they died. Let us recall their faces, their names, and their characters.

“As the younger sit here today, look at the veterans, most of whom are now middle-aged and elderly (there are exceptions!), they will find it hard to believe that those who were our veterans’ contemporaries were young. But the faces of the dead which we have recalled to our minds’ eyes are very young. In my unit about 80 per cent were teenagers. Those in their early 20s were the old men.

“We live today in a very different world from that in which they died. Much of what is good and free and enjoyable in our way of life we owe to their sacrifice. They did not die in vain. Let us never forget what we owe to their sacrifice.

“Today’s world is a very different one. The issues then were much simpler. It was a plain question of right and wrong. None of us had any doubts about that.

“Today, Vietnam is the war that has been in the news for many years. The issues there are not so clear cut. Sometimes I fear that our younger generation, to some of whom American deserters are heroes, read back their legitimate doubts about the Vietnam War and apply them to our earlier wars.

“Is there a danger that the word “veteran” is becoming a dirty word? God forbid. We remember the dead. And we recall that we owe our liberty to protest to them, and to those who fought with them.

“Of course the battle against evil is not finished. God knows we all want peace. We who have fought in war want peace more than most. But what is peace?

“Peace is not just about the absence of war. Without justice, there can be no peace! And I for one want no part of a ‘peace’ where injustice flourishes. In Biblical thought, justice is an essential ingredient of peace. Isaiah speaks of the Prince or Peace. He is also the Prince of Righteousness, of Justice.

“Someone has said the new word for peace is ‘development.’ When we think of injustice, we see that much development is demanded if we are to keep faith with those who died.

“Another matter relating to our peace troubles me. That is the recently announced reductions and cutbacks to our military commitments. Is isolationism practical in today’s global village?”

"If there is any lesson to be learned from history, it is this: the country which economizes unduly at the expense of its peace-time forces, will sooner or later make up the price in the blood of a generation of its youth. Is our present government condemning the young faces I see before me? I would respectfully remind the Legion officers here today that one of the purposes and objects of the Legion is: To strive for peace, goodwill and friendship among all nations, at the same time advocating the maintenance by Canada of adequate defence forces. It is time for this branch to initiate a protest, if we are to keep faith with the fallen.

“I am reminded that after six years of war, Sir Winston Churchill wrote that: ‘Wars are not won by heroic reserves.’

“The size and quality and equipment of forces existing at the outbreak of hostilities, the regular force, does affect the outcome. This is truer than ever in the nuclear age.

“As we remember the fallen today, we also recall a young man who died a grim death on Good Friday 2,000 years ago. The Prince of Peace, the King of Justice, but more importantly, we recall that he rose from the dead in glorious victory. Let us see war dead as participating mystically in his death, and also his victory. Let us join our labours to His and theirs, to extend His reign, His Kingdom of Love and Justice.”

During the service, the invocation was delivered by captain Douglas Warren, Salvation Army; prayers were led by reverend Barry McGaffin and Ven. R.S. Faulks.

Copyright © Powell River Peak


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