RCMP members provided an honour guard for the 2020 service at the Murrayville Cemetery. (Langley Advance Times files)

RCMP members provided an honour guard for the 2020 service at the Murrayville Cemetery. (Langley Advance Times files)

Remembrance Day services planned for Murrayville Cemetery

Public can watch live online so veterans and seniors can attend in person safely

The Murrayville Cemetery Remembrance Day Ceremony on Nov. 11 will also be a mix of online and in-person attendance.

“This year’s ceremony will be a combination of in-person and live stream,” explained Grace Muller, secretary/treasurer of the committee that organizes the community event. “In-person guests are encouraged to wear a mask for your community’s safety.”

A live stream is available at www.MurrayvilleRemembranceDay.ca. Go to the website to watch a nine-minute video on Murrayville history as well as the origins of this community-organized Remembrance Day service.

Feel free to join the Nov. 11 procession, which will leave the south end of the cemetery at 10:30 a.m. during a simple but meaningful program commencing at the cenotaph at 10:40 a.m.

“It is amazing to see the community support for our service. The history and connection with the monument and graves at the cemetery clearly resonates with the community,” said committee member Kirby Adams. “We have been able to maintain an intimate and personal ceremony.”

The Fraser Blues will do a fly-past that will cover several communities around the Lower Mainland and include this ceremony in their flight path.

Organizers strive to make the ceremony accessible to key groups.

“Veterans, seniors, and handicapped persons will be allowed to drive into the cemetery to park,” Muller said. “All others will need time to park at the Langley Golf Course or on 216th Street and walk in.”

Opportunity to lay a wreath happens by reservation. For more information email info@murrayvilleremembranceday.ca. The cemetery is located at 21405 44th Ave.

In the past, some community members would gather on Nov. 11 at the Murrayville Cemetery to honour their war dead at the cenotaph, but there was no formal event centered around the cemetery’s cenotaph. Services had stopped in the 1990s after years of declining attendance.

The organizing committee started with two women, Rosemary Genberg and Grace Muller, in 2017. They decided to plan a simple ceremony.

During planning for that first event, Dave Manson, now deceased, and his grandson put up his 240 flag collection around the site, providing a dramatic backdrop.

The two women expected about 50 to 100 people to attend that first community ceremony. About 300 turned up and attendance has continued to grow substantially every year since.

“Starting this small meaningful and simple Remembrance Day service the first year to see so many attend I was truly overwhelmed. Then to grow over the four years to such a huge crowd and be able to serve our community, remembering our veterans is truly an honour,” Genberg said.

The organizing committee has grown to six community members and the events receive funding from Veterans’ Affairs Canada as well as local residents and businesses. Community and youth groups take part in the dignified, reflective service.

“We started with the purpose of providing a simple but meaningful ceremony for those who had been gathering informally,” Muller said. “We have been amazed at the community support we have received and the yearly growth in attendance! It truly is an honour and privilege to have the opportunity to pause and remember the sacrifices made by our veterans in such a peaceful setting.”

The cemetery was started by the Oddfellows Cloverdale Lodge with the oldest burials dating to 1891. In 1904, the Township purchased the site and renamed it Langley Prairie Cemetery. It would be in the 1920s when the Township discovered that although it had paid the Oddfellows for the site, the change of ownership as never registered. It was rectified in 1925. The cemetery’s Celtic cross cenotaph dominates the veterans’ section and is the centrepiece of Nov. 11 services.

“We are blessed to have a beautiful setting to pay homage to our veterans on their special day,” said committee member Sylvia Anderson.

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Remembrance Day