ADVOCATE – It seemed like a routine traffic stop for Mike Johnson, but it changed the way he looks at Remembrance Day.
He was working traffic services for the RCMP on the highway when he stopped a car for speeding, and found a young man with his driver’s license and papers at the ready, eager to get on with his travels.
“He explained he was from Halifax and was on his way to Gagetown, as he had just received the call that his brother had been reported missing in action in Afghanistan,” said Johnson. “On the scale of importance, he and his family situation made what I was doing fall to the bottom of the scale.”
Now retired from the RCMP, Johnson is the emergency measures coordinator for the Municipality of Cumberland County. On Sunday, Nov. 5, he served as guest speaker at Advocate’s annual Remembrance Day ceremony.
He said he never forgot how he felt after his encounter that day, and how indebted he felt to that man, his family and his brother.
That experience, along with the loss of a fellow RCMP officer in a tragic highway accident earlier this year, caused him to remember the words of the Second World War veterans in his family, and think of how those events played such a significant part in the world we live in today.
“This Remembrance Day, the reasons I have to remember are much more personal and, in a small way, I have a better understanding that it’s not just tradition,” said Johnson. “It’s a day when we put aside our waned memories and recall the sights and feelings that led to this tradition, not in shame or fear of them, but in celebration of them to ensure that the new generations who find it difficult to comprehend may find in circumstances of the future, indebted realities of the past.”
His talk came as part of a busy program of activities at the ceremony, which took place at the community’s “log building” recreation centre. Wreaths were laid indoors, and “The Last Post” and “Reveille” were played with hymns and prayers.
Other special features included a musical “letter home” presentation from Dara Legere, the presentations of postcards to veterans from local children, and the announcement from MC Don Fletcher and Cumberland-Colchester MP Bill Casey that a Vimy oak will be planted in Advocate in the spring.