November 20th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 47
Walter Gail – Remembering Those who Fought
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
Local trumpet player Walter Gail has been playing at Remembrance Day ceremonies in the Crowsnest Pass for years.

“I've been playing for about 49-50 years and I'm pretty sure this is my 48th year playing Remembrance Day services in the Pass,” said Gail.

Gail began learning the instrument when he was younger and it grew to the point where he was asked to play at the local services.

“The way it came about is when I was taken lessons, my teacher Frank Hytl(SPELLING?) and I had only been playing for about a year and a half and I had the love for it and advanced quickly and one lesson he told me the legions needed someone to play for them so he wrote the last post and the Rouse and I started playing it.”

Gail says it started small and then grew to him playing every service.

“It started with the Blairmore service at that time and went from there. Every year I've played and always make a point of it. It's always been such an honour and privilege to do it for the veterans.”

Gail is able to wear a uniform and hat from his time with the Hillcrest Fire Department who also took part in Remembrance Day ceremonies.

“We have an honour guard that originally came from the Hillcrest Fire Department and they fired the gun salute. I started with them and that's why I can wear the uniform and the hat.”
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One thing Gail has made a point of doing every year is dropping by the cenotaph in Blairmore to play the Last Post and Rouse and observe a moment of silence.

“With the demise of the Blairmore legion, I just wanted the people of Blairmore to know that their fallen and loved ones haven't been forgotten. The last couple years I've pulled in there and played the last post over the cenotaph, observed a moment of silence and recited the verse and played the Rouse for them too.”

Gail says he does this to remember and show respect to the vets of Blairmore.

“I think a lot of us have had family members in service so I do this for the sacrifice they were willing to make for us and to truly honour them. For myself it's always been an honour and privilege to do this.”

Gail says he wouldn’t mind seeing a service return to Blairmore but also says he’s heard of other options for the cenotaph.

“I think it'd be very nice if we could have just a little bit of a service with a small contingent of people going there to pay their respects and say a few words and have a moment of silence for the good people of Blairmore just so they know they haven't been forgotten. I talked about it a little bit with the officials at the legion this year and they said there was maybe some thoughts on moving the cenotaph or bringing it to some type of public place.”
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Gail has also played for funeral services of veterans in the area.

“Over the years I've played for a lot of the vets after they've passed on at their funeral services. I haven't made them all but I wish I could. I've always found that to be a privilege as well. I've seen a lot of the vets go. There's not many left from World War 2.

There’s one thing that Gail still says is missing after all these years of playing.

“I always hoped that as I played through the years, that maybe there'd be more peace in the world but it seems like every year there's a new conflict or a new place we have to send our boys into harm's way. It's a shame.”

Gail also says he's thankful to see some of the younger generations be involved with services now in different aspects like playing the bagpipes or being part of the honour guard but isn’t ready to pass the torch quite yet.

“As time goes along maybe I can find a protégé or someone else to carry on the tradition and I really hope we always have someone to play for the vets. I know I've missed a couple notes over the years but I feel having a trumpet and the pipes adds so much to the service and to the respect factor. Lord willing I'll make a few more. It's been really good.”
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November 20th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 47
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