Questions, but no complaints for Remembrance Day service

·2 min read

In response to many questions, representatives for the Aylmer Royal Canadian Legion Colonel Talbot Branch 81 published their safety plan for the Remembrance Day ceremony in the Dec. 23 edition of The Aylmer Express.

The Legion had received questions about the ceremony from members of the public, explained Legion President Arthur Oslach. They asked why there was a private service, who and how many people were in attendance, and what safety protocols were followed.

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, the Aylmer Legion hosted two invitation-only Remembrance Day ceremonies in Springfield and Aylmer. They were advertised as such. They were designed to respect COVID-19 safety protocols.

While outdoor events at the time were capped at 25 people, an estimated 50 people attended the Aylmer ceremony at about 11 a.m. Most wore masks and kept their distance from each other, taking up extra space. During the service, people spilled out onto Talbot Street and blocked both directions of traffic.

“Although we discouraged the public from attending, we couldn’t control people coming to honor our veterans,” said Mr. Oslach, adding that he personally received no complaints from the public or town about the service.

Areas were blocked off to the public for the private service, including the south side of Talbot Street (between Center Street and the Meridian Bank), and part of the cenotaph property. Anywhere outside the barriers was considered open to the public.

The Legion did not opt to use a public address (PA) system while members were delivering speeches because the service was intended to be private, said Mr. Oslach.

Other safety measures followed by Aylmer Legion members included wearing face coverings, and physically distancing during the ceremony. Emergency services were also notified of the event.

The safety plan was formulated by the town’s emergency response committee and followed to the letter by the Legion, said Mr. Oslach, who is also a town councillor. Town staff in general were initially hesitant to allow the event to move forward because of the “Freedom Rally” on Saturday, Nov. 7, that drew upwards of 2,000 anti-restrictions protestors.

“They were worried that some of the freedom rally people would interrupt the service,” he said, but the service was not disrupted in any way.

Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express