This Sunday marks 100 years since the guns of World War One fell silent. Soldiers would finally get to return home after years of living in muddy trenches, and seeing horrors that no one should ever have to witness, changing them forever. For 61 thousand Canadian soldiers, there would be no homecoming, as they lay dead on the battlefield.
I’ve always been in love with history; it’s the story of how we all got here. I’ve always looked at historical artifacts and places and thought about how even though years have passed, these things are still here, and what stories they could tell if they could only talk. This Sunday, you will have the chance to see what I’m talking about when you go to the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Armoury here in Prince Albert.
Built in 1915, the Armoury has been a silent witness to Canadian soldiers from every conflict of the 20th and 21st centuries. The building itself has changed very little since it was built, so as you walk through the doors I’d like you to think about all the soldiers who have walked through that same opening over the last 100 years.
Look around the inside and imagine all the laughs and all the tears shared in that building. Imagine those who signed up in that building to defend their country, with their lives if necessary, then look at the faces of today’s soldiers in attendance. These soldiers signed that same contract… to defend their country with their lives if necessary.
The soldiers may change, but the building remains, silently watching. Many troops of the First World War shipped out from that building, walking across what was then an open field to the train, and into history… many never to return. Their last glimpse of home, was that building. If you look around the outside of the building, you’ll find names & initials of some of those soldiers scratched into the brick over the years, some even dating back to when it was brand new.
When the first soldiers used the Armoury to prepare for World War One, I doubt they anticipated that we would still be honouring them 100 year later. So as you attend the ceremony this Sunday remember, when you walk through those doors, you are sharing the same space with those brave people, just 100 years apart. You have become a part of the story of that historic building, a tangible piece of history. If only those walls could talk.