(By: Subi Anandarajah)
Torontonians gathered at the Old City Hall cenotaph on Remembrance Day yesterday to show their support for those who served and continue to serve Canada.
John Tory, the mayor of Toronto, attended the event and encouraged those present to keep in mind that many Canadians sacrificed themselves during the wars for future generations to live a life of peace and freedom.
“We honour and remember all Canadian soldiers, sailors, aircrew, as well as the nurses and many more who supported and served. We pay our respects to those who lost their lives, to those who were injured in military conflict or in peacekeeping, and to survivors of such sad events,” said Tory during the service.
The program included the vigil sentries, the Remembrance Day Parade, and the flypast.
At specific moments during the ceremony, the Last Post, the Lament and “Reveille” were played.
The tower bells rang at 11’o clock to signify the moment the First World War ended and the ceremony paused for two minutes of silence to remember veterans and their sacrifices.
The Act of Remembrance and the Commitment to Remember were recited along with “O Canada”, hymns, prayers of remembrance and the reading of “In Flanders Fields”.
The ceremony then concluded with the laying of the wreaths, and afterward, people placed their poppies at the bottom of the monument.
Barbara King, an accountant and legion member living in Toronto, whose grandfather served during the Second World War, said it is crucial to be involved during these ceremonies by wearing a poppy and having a moment of silence at 11 o’ clock every year.
“It’s important to me to remember the sacrifice by the men and women who serve in the military for our freedom every day, which is something we shouldn’t take for granted.”
Reflecting on the sacrifices her grandfather and his family have made, King said Remembrance Day holds a special meaning to her because of the personal connection.
Phil Kennedy, a Torontonian and office manager, said while he does not have any personal connection to Remembrance Day, he is amazed and shocked by the experiences of young and old veterans during the war.
“I think it’s important to take time out of your everyday schedule to give thanks and think about the sacrifices men and women have made for freedom, liberty and peace,” said Kennedy.
He said that Canadians can show their support for veterans through whatever means they have.
“Financially is one way. Support by taking time and thinking about it, and thanking veterans when you see them. Support policies that help them when they come back from wars and try to volunteer time for those policies. That’s about it,” he said.
Harry Neill, a veteran who received a special medal for long service, was 17 when he enlisted in the army. He was a part of the invasion and the battle of Dieppe during the Second World War and said the raid on Dieppe was a defining moment in his years of service.
Looking at how many people showed up to the service, he said he will attend another ceremony.
“I think it’s marvelous. They had a well-organized program and I think it was very well done.”
Neill also said it is important to appreciate that veterans pledged their service to Canada.
“Just remember that every day you’re here because a lot of men lost their lives to make it comfortable for you. I was born here. My dad came from Ireland and he loved this country. I think that once you get in, you must love the country, and if you don’t love it, you better go somewhere else.”