The Commemoration Day Virtual Service began during the first year of the pandemic. Everything had been shut down, including all of the activities of Royal Canadian Legion US Branch #25. When the closure began in March our members watched as the annual inspection of our local division of Sea Cadets cancelled. Then March became April, and then May – and the annual ANZAC Day events and our US Memorial Day service were both cancelled. By June, the branch had cancelled is third monthly membership meetings, and planning to commemorate for the 75th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations charter, which occurred in San Francisco, was postponed indefinitely.
Around that time a Canadian ex-pat organization called the Digital Moose Lounge contacted us to see if the branch wanted to participate in the virtual Canada Day celebration that they were planning. One of our executive at the time was a native Newfoundlander, and we saw an opportunity. As Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are aware, in addition to being Canada Day, July 1st is also Memorial Day or Commemoration Day in Newfoundland and Labrador – a day when we remember the tragic events of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel. To honour that tradition, and as a way to begin to engage both the members of our the branch and our local cadets again, we sought to create a virtual sunrise service for Commemoration Day.
The tradition of this virtual service continues as a way to engage our members who are not local to the Bay Area. It also allows the branch to engage with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from all across Canada to bring special programming to their remembrance services. The service is generally streamed during the morning of 01 July each year.