REMEMBRANCE DAY AT QUEEN’S PARK, 2010
By Richard Rohmer
This weekend, November 6/7, is the run-up to Remembrance Day across Canada with ceremonies in churches, synagogues and other places where historic memories are recognized.
At the 11th hour, of the 11th day of the 11th month, November, 1918, the Armistice was signed in Europe bringing to an end the War to End All Wars, the bloodiest war in the history of mankind, the First World War.
Tens of thousands of young Canadians were killed ‘over there’. Their bodies lie buried in countless cemeteries that are forever well maintained with their never ending lines of white crosses, row on row.
Following the First War it was customary to have enormous remembrance services on Armistice Day in every city, town and village at the local cenotaph where the image statue of an infantryman (boy) was usually the centrepiece — and still is.
But when the Second World War was finally concluded in 1945 the word “Armistice” was not quite appropriate to describe the formal ending in Europe and far across the Pacific.
So it was that November 11th was given a new, modern name for celebrations and ceremonies that would embrace both World Wars. It was and is “Remembrance Day”.
On this upcoming Remembrance Day there will be many recitals from the poems of the First War; the poetic words of any airman in High Flight; and countless promises to all deceased warriors of those long gone days as well as those of Canada’s current fighting in Afghanistan that ‘we will remember them’.
As indeed we will!
On a personal note, as a Veteran of D-Day, the Battles of Normandy and Holland during the 1944/5 Allied liberation of Europe, it follows that my interest in Remembrance Day is strong.
Fortunately for me, I have the privilege of heading the organization of the Remembrance Day parade and ceremony that takes place at the splendid new Veterans Memorial on the front lawn at Queen’s Park. The creation of this beautiful memorial was an objective of Dalton McGuinty as soon as he became premier of the province. After much effort and planning the design, location and construction was completed under the guidance of a non-partisan committee heavily populated by Veterans. In the late summer of 2006 a huge parade and elaborate ceremony marked the unveiling of the Veterans Memorial at Queen’s Park. Then on Remembrance Day 2006 the first parade/ceremony was held at the Veterans Memorial in the presence of the Premier who addressed the gathered crowd on behalf of the people of the Ontario citizenry who had fallen in both World Wars and in the peacekeeping and peacemaking military activities of Canada.
Generally speaking, that ceremony will be repeated again next week on Remembrance Day. The Premier will speak in the presence of an enormous gathering of people whose numbers have grown and grown since that first 2006 event. And, yes, I will follow him with words of remembrance on behalf of all Veterans.