Veterans Memorial Ceremony at cemetery filled with stark reminders of loss

With a blustery wind insisting hundreds of Canadian flags stand at attention for those lost in conflict, the Military Church Parade and Veterans Memorial Ceremony took place Sunday morning at Memorial Park Cemetery.

The 100 or so people who attended saw the event begin with a military parade where representatives from the Royal Canadian Legion, the RCMP, Rocky Mountain Rangers B Coy/2618 and the Rocky Mountain Ranger Army Cadets, Navy League Cadets and Royal Canadian Sea Cadets marched to the veterans memorial from the gates of the cemetery.

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Chaplain Susan Scott presided over the ceremony and offered a remembrance prayer for those lost or who still suffer because of conflict. She included all those in attendance who serve their country and community as well as civilians.

A representative from each service organization was offered the opportunity to say a few words, along with those from the federal parliament, provincial legislature, the city of Prince George and the council of the Lheidli T'enneh.

The most poignant moment came as those representatives lay poppies on the veterans memorial.

"Throughout our nation's history Canadians have answered the world's call," MP Todd Doherty said. "In my mind heroes don't wear a cape. They wear our maple leaf on their shoulder, they wear shoulder flashes that say paramedic, EMT, police officer, firefighter. They are our military and today is a stark reminder that freedom is not free. The great men and women who have answered the call - and their families - have sacrificed for you and your family and my family. Collectively, they have paid our debt for our safety, security and freedom and for that we say thank you."

Linda Stacey and Steven Witte were part of the crowd of onlookers who bore witness to the very solemn ceremony taking place.

"We're here for the usual good and wholesome reason, supporting our veterans because they are the reason we have freedom today, but there's another special reason for us and that's Christopher Stacey, my step son and Linda's son - we lost him two years ago at the Comox air force base."

Corporal Stacey, 29, was a firefighter at 19 Wing Comox who died in a car accident on March 26, 2016.

Stacey enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in Prince George in 2008 as an infantryman, Witte explained. Stacey served with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light infantry in Afghanistan, Witte added. Stacey served in Afghanistan from Oct. 2009 until April 2010. In March 2013 Stacey transferred to be a fire fighter and was posted to Comox that fall and remained there until his death.

Linda said this ceremony is the most important to her over and above the Remembrance Day ceremonies that will take place next Sunday because it's at the cemetery where those who have been lost have been laid to rest.

After the ceremony everyone at the cemetery was invited to go to the Legion to spend some time together.

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