By Paula Brown
Ceremonies commemorating the First World War and the 100 years since the signing of the armistice will take place across Etobicoke and Toronto this Sunday, Nov. 11.
Legion members will run ceremonies of remembrance at local legions throughout Etobicoke. A ceremony will also take place at Vimy Ridge Parkette, where a memorial for the men and women of Mimico stands commemorating their service during the First World War.
“Etobicoke had always had a tradition of supporting the Remembrance Day activities, keeping the sacrifices that were made by veterans over the years, keeping them forefront, and helping honour them,” says Richard Bochenek, who works with the cadets.
Members will also be in attendance at an act of remembrance ceremony at Queen’s Park, where the legions have assisted the Province of Ontario with their Remembrance Day ceremonies for the last 16 years.
“It is the most important day for our legion, and the most important day for our veterans,” says Donna Sampson, 72, Royal Canadian Legion President for branch 643. “It is above any holiday or special day.”
The Royal Canadian Legion is an organization that helps support veterans and promotes the remembrance of soldiers who lost their lives. Members throughout the year aid veterans with home and medical needs.
“This is an honour bound duty to remember our forefathers, who fought for our freedom, paid for our freedom, gave up their lives or were severely injured and spent the rest of their lives suffering as a result,” says Bochenek. “We need to remember them, we need to recognize that, we need to honour that.”
The Royal Canadian Legion will participate in another act of remembrance Saturday, Nov. 10 with a raising of the flag ceremony at Sunnybrook Hospital. Members will plant 10,000 Canadian flags in the lawns that K Wing, also known as the Veterans Wing, overlooks.
“When the veterans wake up on the morning of Remembrance Day and look out the window they see a sea of Canadian flags,” says Bochenek. “To remember the sacrifices they made and their colleagues made in the various wars they were involved in.”
The Canadian Forces will commemorate the armistice’s 100 year anniversary with a parade at Queen’s Park. Five hundred regular forces and cadets will march in the parade. The signing of the armistice seized battles across France on Nov. 11, 1918 and ended the First World War four years after it began.
“It was hard, it was a very hard war,” says Sampson, who says her father rarely talked about his experiences in the Second World War.