For the past 10 years or so, well-known Coldstream photographer Wayne Emde has been a fixture at Remembrance Day ceremonies at the district cenotaph.
His thoughts on Nov. 11 often turn to his grandfather, Robert Twizell, a native of Britain who immigrated to Canada and immediately signed up on Oct. 24, 1914, to join the Canadian army and head back to Europe to fight the Germans. Twizell suffered war injuries, pneumonia, influenza and was wounded just prior to the end of the war in 1918.
Upon returning to his new home in Canada, Twizell farmed before retiring to New Westminster. He would spend every Christmas in Campbell River with Emde’s family, whose mom was Twizell’s daughter.
With Remembrance Day ceremonies in the North Okanagan altered in many ways due to COVID-19, and the public asked not to attend ceremonies in person, Emde shared an idea on the Vernon and Area Community Forum page on Facebook how people could honour veterans.
At 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, Emde is promoting the idea of residents going out to their driveways or sidewalks and observe two minutes of silence.
“I was talking to a friend in Salmon Arm who was trying to figure out some way to recognize the veterans,” said Emde, who, in 2014, spent the 70th anniversary of D-Day – June 6, 1944 – on Juno Beach near Normandy, France, where Canadian soldiers landed.
“I just thought about going out of the house, being distant and looking down the street to see everybody doing that.”
Since Emde made his Facebook post at 5:20 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 3, more than 540 people have reacted and more than 80 people have commented – all positive.
“I was surprised because I didn’t think it would grab that much attention,” said Emde, a retired school teacher and former community public relations officer at the Vernon Army Camp’s summer training centre. “There were no negative comments at all. That made me feel good.”
Emde’s friend Francois Arseneault, an ‘accidental historian,’ and curator of the Vernon Army Camp Museum, has shared Emde’s post with every military organization he’s connected with online, and to numerous community pages.