Lest we forget: vets urge all to remember sacrifice

Gordon Quan will lay a wreath this weekend to remember how lucky he is to be alive.

Gordon Quan, 86, and Andrew Wong, 87, will honour their fallen comrades in arms.

Gordon Quan will lay a wreath this weekend to remember how lucky he is to be alive.

The Chinese-Canadian Second World War veteran celebrated his 86th birthday this year, alongside his military cohort and best friend Andrew Wong, 87. Every year, the gentlemen maintain their duty to never forget those who fought with less fortune — and they hope all Victorians will do the same.

“It is an important day to me to remember how lucky I am, but mostly to remember the people, and it matters who they are; those who sacrificed everything for our country,” says Quan. “That’s what’s important.”

As Monday reported last year in a special “Remember Us” feature, the two men fought in the 1940s for a country that wasn’t prepared to support them. “When we were young, there was still discrimination. We weren’t allowed to go to the same schools or swim in the same public pools,” says Wong. “It was no surprise that we weren’t allowed to fight for Canada. They didn’t want us; they didn’t trust us.”

Still, the two dedicated Canadians persisted and Wong signed up to join the air cadets at age 16, then the merchant navy as soon as he was out of high school. Quan volunteered to go overseas, but was first drafted into the British army — as were many Chinese Canadians — before being accepted into the Canadian infantry division. Their moves paved the way for a Canadian landscape that would eventually recognize Chinese Canadians as citizens, and allow them to vote.

Since 1957, Wong’s Victoria Chinatown Lions Club has played a leading role in organizing Remembrance Day services for veterans in the city. This year will be the first that Wong will have to miss the downtown cenotaph ceremony and special veterans’ dinner due to medical complications. Quan, however, will be present with the Royal Canadian Legion at Saanich’s wreath-laying ceremony.

“What it boils down to, is that we are just not young anymore,” says Wong. “Many of us are still participating in the services, just not physically. We still send our money in to the poppy fund, and we still like to see everyone come out.”

To Gordon Moore, dominion president of the Royal Canadian Legion, community support means more than many people are aware of.

“Remembrance Day should not only be reserved to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. It should also be a practical remembrance of the living … those who served who are in need of a helping hand,” Moore says. “Members of the Royal Canadian Legion are, as one of their core responsibilities, the guardians of remembrance.”

The Poppy Campaign, organized by the Legion every Remembrance Day, funds veterans and their families who are in need of financial assistance. Public donations sponsor medical equipment, bursaries for students, support services such as meals-on-wheels and drop-in centres and help with basic residential repairs.

For those who don’t carry change for the plastic flowers, the Legion now offers the ultimate in remembrance convenience: donors can text message “POPPY” to 20222 to donate $5 to the campaign and veteran programs.

“It was always a good day for us,” says Wong of Remembrance Day. “We like to invite all the veterans out and chit chat over things … and they would even take us out for breakfast, then dinner.” M

Remember on Nov. 11:- Victoria Remembrance Day Ceremony: 10:15am at the Cenotaph on legislature grounds (614 Government).

– Saanich Remembrance Day Ceremony: 10:30am-2:30pm at the Cenotaph in front of Saanich Municipal Hall (770 Vernon).

– Pioneer Square Commemorative Ceremony: 10:30am at memorial in Pioneer Square (Quadra and Meares).

– Remembering Peace: the Spanish Civil War and the White Poppy: 10:45am at the memorial near the intersection of Menzies and Belleville.

– Veterans’ Cemetery Remembrance Tour with John Azar: 2pm at the Veterans’ Cemetery (1200 Colville). Non-members $5.

See full list at Veterans Affairs Canada: veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/veterans-week/events.

Just Posted

Rock giants team up for April arena show in Victoria

Steve Miller and Peter Frampton descend on Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre April 14

Capital Region regular gas prices highest since 2008

Greater Victoria prices roughly 10 cents above the B.C. average

Young performers showcase new works in Oak Bay venue

The TD Festival of New Works is March 27 and 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the CCPA Performance Hall

Edibles sidelined in proposed amendments to Cannabis Act

Health Canada says edible regulation is still more than a year away

On Stage: Lessons leads the way to much music in coming weeks

Bema Productions brings the Canadian premiere of “Lessons” to the stage this… Continue reading

Highlighting Indigenous tattoo artistry

TV series on international tattooing traditions features Salmon Arm artist

The most “Victoria” way to watch baseball?

HarbourCats fans can now watch games from double-decker buses

Just For Laughs sold to Howie Mandel

Just For Laughs sold to Howie Mandel and U.S. company ICM Partners

Starbucks to unveil latest creation: crystal ball frappuccino

The limited-edition drink will be available starting March 22

City of Victoria seeks artists to contribute to upcoming public exhibitions

Submissions for Commercial Alley gallery, bus shelter project due by April 9

Free workshops in March for Embrace Aging Month

Sessions on finanical management, safe travel and many more

REVIEW: Ballet Etoile scores comic triumph with Coppelia

Victoria professional company produces a fine ensemble piece

V2V ship tours offer hospitality, info on harbour-to-harbour services

Open houses planned for next few weekends on Victoria’s Inner Harbour

America’s Musical Journey premieres at the IMAX

Enter to win tickets to an invite only concert at your community newspaper’s Facebook page

Most Read