Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

Most municipalities in Metro Vancouver held ceremonies, but limited attendance to senior officials and encouraged members of the public to watch them online or on television due to the pandemic.

Article content

The average age of a World War II veteran is 94 this year, so with his 97, Clifford Anton has that beat.

Advertising

Article content

Anton, wrapped in a blanket in a wheelchair and a series of medals attached to his chest, attended the Vancouver Chinatown Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday to honor wartime victims, especially victims of Chinese-Canadian veterans. He guesses he was 19 or 20 when he signed up.

“It was just something you had to do,” he said before the dinner ceremony, one of several in Greater Vancouver held in person instead of online. “It was not an adventure, it was a duty.”

Anton was a radio room operator and was stationed in Europe at HMCS Oshawa and HMCS Mahone, said his daughter, Karen Barry. “He got the message when the war was declared over and he had to inform his captain,” she said.

Anton said it was important for him to attend the ceremony to honor his friends, many of whom have since died.

Veteran Clifford Anton, 97, at the Chinatown Memorial Plaza for Remembrance Day in Vancouver on November 11, 2021.
Veteran Clifford Anton, 97, at the Chinatown Memorial Plaza for Remembrance Day in Vancouver on November 11, 2021. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

The ceremony, held at Chinatown Memorial Square in Columbia and Keefer streets, took place in front of the monument with bronze statues of a soldier and a railroad worker, both of which mark the contributions Canada’s Chinese society has made to Canada.

Lieutenant. Henry Wong, 30, who is in the Canadian Navy and is stationed in Esquimalt, was one of about a dozen Navy personnel from Victoria who traveled to Vancouver for the ceremony.

He said he enlisted in the Navy because he has always been attracted to the ocean since he grew up with fishing parents.

Advertising

Article content

“Yes, they are proud of me, they look at home,” he said.

A number of dignitaries, including former Secretary of Defense Harjit Sajjan, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, MLA Melanie Mark and Vancouver Coun. Sarah Kirby Yung, laid wreaths at the base of the monument.

The ceremony was organized by the Chinese community in Vancouver, with the help of the Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans Pacific Unit 280, Chinese Benevolent Association of Vancouver, Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society, Chinese Cultural Center of Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Chinatown Merchants Association.

Ninety minutes earlier, the Remembrance Day ceremony at nearby Victory Square was held in a scaled-down version of its pre-COVID version.

Advertising

Article content

The ceremony, usually one of BC’s largest, was by invitation only this year for wreath-setters and a limited number of military personnel and senior officials due to COVID-19, organizers said.

The BC Center for Disease Control’s restrictions on public outdoor gatherings were more relaxed than last year, when most ceremonies were held virtually; The ceremony was livestreamed and broadcast live on television, and organizers had urged the public not to attend due to the pandemic. But the ceremony, which included a flight past by an RCMP plane followed by four pilots flying their own planes from the group called Poppy Flights, attracted about 200 to 300 members of the public.

Advertising

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, which is an update to a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on adjusting your email settings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.