Music and the military have been woven into the fabric of Mike Dominy’s life.
After beginning with the clarinet at the age of 10, he embarked on a life as a professional musician, marrying an inherited family interest in music with a career in the military that lasted for 43 years. His military stint included playing with the Naden Band and spending 22 years as a full-time musician.
The Colwood resident will conduct the 25 members of the Chiefs and Petty Officers Association Band during this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony in Esquimalt, a task he has performed for the past five years. The band will perform about a dozen songs, including traditional hymns and anthems.
For Dominy, Remembrance Day is of particular significance.
“It’s a time to reflect on family and commitment,” he said.
His grandfather served during the First World War, somehow surviving a bullet in the chest during one battle and a gas attack during another. His uncle, now deceased, served in the British Parachute Regiment in the Second World War.
“I only found that out recently,” Dominy said. “Like most veterans, he was very reticent about what he did. For me, Remembrance Day is an opportunity to reflect and honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Dominy has been involved in Nov. 11 ceremonies long enough to remember when there were veterans of the First World War in attendance.“That’s no longer the case,” he noted. “And the number of [Second] World War veterans diminishes every year.”
Although he has travelled to France to take part in Remembrance Day at Vimy Ridge on seven different occasions, one ceremony during the early 1980s stands out in particular.
“The veteran reading The Act of Remembrance broke down. I found out while visiting with him afterwards that he was 16 during the battle of Vimy Ridge,” Dominy said.
“It was one of the most emotional moments I have ever experienced and has had a profound affect on me ever since.”
Despite the decreasing number of veterans in attendance with each passing year, the band leader has witnessed larger crowds during the past few years — he points to the heightened awareness of the role of military members following separate fatal attacks on servicemen in Ottawa and Quebec in 2014.
“It’s important for people to remember the sacrifices that are still being made,” he said.
After more than four decades in uniform, Dominy’s retirement from the military has provided him with more time to focus on the Westshore Community Concert Band, which he founded in 2012, and his work as an audio visual technician at Royal Roads University.
Dominy proudly notes that Emma Litzke will conduct the Westshore band at this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony at Veterans’ Memorial Park.
“We are pleased to be supporting the community in this year’s ceremony,” he said.