An estimated crowd of 6,500 attended the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

An estimated crowd of 6,500 attended the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: Record turnout at Fort Langley Remembrance Day service

Estimated crowd of 6,500 packed the site

Before the Remembrance Day service began at the Fort Langley cenotaph, Brian Elidoros paid his parents and grandparents a visit.

His father, Theodore Elidoros, was a veteran of the Second World War, an RCAF flying officer who piloted the giant Canso Catalina flying boats, and so was his mother, Frances Mary, a private who performed in the army shows.

So too was his grandfather, John Harry Bleakley, a lance corporal with the 107th Infantry, who served in the First World War until a poison gas attack by the enemy sent him home.

His grandmother, Cathrine Mary, was not a soldier but lost her brother in the fighting.

His parents and grandparents share a carved headstone in the Fort Langley military cemetery.

As he does every year, Brian Elidoros put up photos of his relatives and laid out his dad’s flight jacket, with military medals, on the headstone.

“It’s a little thing I can do for them,” he told the Langley Advance Times.

Formerly a Langley resident, for the last few years Elidoros has made the trip from his new home in Salmon Arm along with some family members, and his dog, Zoey, who waited patiently by the headstone while he arranged the photos and jacket just so.

“It’s a very, very proud moment to come down here,” Elidoros observed.

“They were great people, all of them. They served their country, [they] volunteered. Lots of their friends didn’t come back.”

At the service, a piper and colour party led a group of veterans, active members of the Canadian Armed Forces, clergy, RCMP, Air Cadets, firefighters, elected officials, Kwantlen First Nation elders, and Scouts and Guides to the cenotaph on Glover Road.

There was a flypast by members of the Fraser Blues formation flying team around the time two minutes of silence were observed.

Among the dignitaries who laid wreaths were Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese and local MLA Rich Coleman.

This year, according to a Langley RCMP rough estimate, about 6,500 people attended the service at the cenotaph, “significantly” up from the previous year, when an estimated 5,000 turned out, said RCMP Cpl. Craig van Herk.

“It was a wall of people,” van Herk commented.

Volunteer Russell Townsend observed that “you used to be able to see grass,” previously, while it was “all people” this year.

Among them, 94-year-old Willoughby resident Michael Holley, who is not inclined to say much about his Second World War experiences as a member of an RAF air-sea-rescue vessel, the crews that would rescue downed pilots from the channel at considerable risk of being attacked by German fighters.

He came back with four medals, that he never wore, and shrapnel in one arm that he shrugged off as the result of an “air raid accident.”

His son, Andre, said “he’s never worn them, ever. I don’t know why.”

He finally convinced his father to wear his medals this Nov. 11, even getting them professionally polished for the occasion.

“They came back on the Friday [before the Monday ceremony],” Andre related.

Remembrance Day organizers arranged to have a golf cart transport Holley and another older veteran to a reserved spot at the event. Applause rippled through the crowd as the vehicle passed.

READ MORE: VIDEO: One man’s quest to know Langley’s fallen soldiers

A serious three-year-old from Willoughby, Tavian Crouch, was in the first row of viewers, watching the event unfold.

His mother, Donna Hancock, explained that her son appears to understand the significance of the cenotaph, which he refers to as “the cross.”

“His uncle is in the army,” mom added.

Master of ceremonies Jonathan Meads informed the audience that it was now 20 years since veteran Gord Gillard revived Remembrance Day in Fort Langley.

“[Gillard] walked into the Fort Gallery upset that nothing was happening here,” Meads related.

“[Gallery owner] Brenda Alberts joined him for an impromptu service of two that set about the resurrection of the service we attend today. Both Gord and Brenda have passed, but their efforts live on.”

Meads’ scout troop once again led a clean-up of the veterans headstones a few days before the ceremony.

READ MORE: ‘These kids are jumping at the opportunity to help out in their community’

There were considerably more volunteers this year, he noted.

“We were done in two hours.”

More Remembrance Day photos can be viewed online.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Before the Remembrance Day service began at the Fort Langley cenotaph, Brian Elidoros paid his parents and grandparents a visit with his dog Zoey at his side. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Before the Remembrance Day service began at the Fort Langley cenotaph, Brian Elidoros paid his parents and grandparents a visit with his dog Zoey at his side. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Brian Elidoros set up photos of his parents, both military veterans at the Fort Langley cemetery before the Remembrance Day service began. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Brian Elidoros set up photos of his parents, both military veterans at the Fort Langley cemetery before the Remembrance Day service began. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Ferdinand Bredenholler played the last post at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Ferdinand Bredenholler played the last post at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

A young flag bearer was among the honour guard at the at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

A young flag bearer was among the honour guard at the at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

After the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service concluded, attendees placed their poppies on the cenotaph. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

After the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service concluded, attendees placed their poppies on the cenotaph. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Three-year-old Tavian Croutch from Walnut Grove was an intent observer at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Three-year-old Tavian Croutch from Walnut Grove was an intent observer at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

For the first time since he won his medals in the second world war, Willoughby resident Michael Holley wore them at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

For the first time since he won his medals in the second world war, Willoughby resident Michael Holley wore them at the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

An estimated crowd of 6,500 attended the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

An estimated crowd of 6,500 attended the Fort Langley Remembrance Day service. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

Just Posted

Tina Taphouse is pictured in Langley, B.C., Monday, June 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Langley woman says her mother put her up for adoption to avoid Kamloops residential school

Tina Taphouse said she’s sharing her family’s story so those who went to the schools don’t have to

Single Moms Oil Change in 2017. (Aldergrove Star files)
Single Moms Oil Change to be held for first time in more than one year

Free oil change for single parents offered by Acts of Kindness at Church in the Valley on Sunday

Langley Grad Week 2021 runs June 21-25. (Langley School District Facebook)
Langley Grad Week 2021 starts today

Community is invited to celebrate this year’s graduates

The new bike lockers at Langley’s Carvolth park and ride station are solar powered and open and close with a smartphone app. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Solar powered bike lockers in Langley’s Carvolth open with an app

The new TransLink lockers are part of a pilot program

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

Deepak Sharma of Abbotsford has been convicted of the sexual assault of one of his cab passengers in West Vancouver in January 2019.
Former Abbotsford Hindu temple president convicted of sexual assault

Deepak Sharma assaulted a female passenger when he was a cab driver

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Most Read