Andrew McAnsh woke up at 8 am on Remembrance Day to rehearse The Last Post, reading over the notes again and again, going over the finger positions on his trumpet without making a sound. He did not want to wake his roommate.
“It’s not very long, and there aren’t very many funny notes in it,” said McAnsh, “but everyone’s listening and if you make a mistake, everyone knows.”
The Last Post is the solo trumpet piece played before the moment of silence on Remembrance Day. Humber’s student government approached McAnsh, a fourth year music student at the college, to perform at the Lakeshore campus ceremony.
“We all have grandparents that might have served in the war,” McAnsh said. “It means that they know something that we don’t, and this to me represents their sacrifice and the privileges we gained from it. After it follows the silence, which is used as a moment of reflection to remember what has happened in history.”
Austen Cambon, Humber College professor and graduate of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario in 1954, served as a peacekeeper in Korea in June of the same year, shortly after the cease fire was ordered. Cambon delivered a speech to the gathering at Humber College. And during the moment of silence, he says he thought of his brother and sister, who knew war all too well.
The youngest of four Quebec City siblings, Cambon’s older brother and sister were both involved in the military during World War II. His brother Ken fought in Hong Kong in 1941 and was kidnapped and held in a Japanese war camp for 44 months after the nation was invaded following Pearl Harbor. His eldest sister Noreen, after hearing of what happened in Hong Kong left Canada immediately. She wanted to do whatever she could to help with relief efforts, and signed on as a nurse in London.
“The moment of silence is one that each can remember in his own or her own way what they want to remember, without the impact of any noise or talk around them,” Cambon said before the ceremony began. “Because, depending on their experience, and who they’ve lost in battle – friends or relatives – they just want to remember them in silence.”
McAnsh stepped up to the microphone immediately after Cambon finished his speech, stood up straight, cleared his throat and took two deep breaths. The audience rose to their feet. With his eyes closed McAnsh played the first note, a low D, of The Last Post. He has done this six times before at past Remembrance Day ceremonies, but this was his first time for Humber.
After he finished, two minutes of silence hung over the room. The ventalation hummed and the sound of others breathing could be heard. McAnsh then picked up his trumpet, and ended the silence with the second ceremonial piece, The Revielle, used in the military at first light to wake the soldiers from their rest.