Toronto Pays Respect On Remembrance Day
Today I attended my first official Remembrance Day service in person.
On November 11th I typically watch the Ottawa broadcast from the comfort of my couch. Or, when my children were younger, their school would stage a production - sometimes with military in attendance.
This year I wanted to do something different and chose to attend in person.
2018 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War. In Toronto there were several venues marking Remembrance Day including each of the civic centres, Old City Hall and Confederation Park on the Lakeshore.
I went to the Etobicoke Civic Centre and arrived to see hundreds of people gathered around the back of the building by the Cenotaph. Stationed there were four cadets with their heads bowed holding rifles, Toronto Police, Fire Services, Paramedics, government officials and hundreds of civilians.
It was remarkable to look over and see a Veteran who may have served in the Second World War and standing behind him was a young soldier in army green fatigues.
By 10:45am the service began with the laying of wreaths. There was total silence from the crowd, even with the many young children in attendance. The only nearby noise was coming from cars driving by along busy Burnhamthorpe Road.
Wreaths were laid by members of municipal, provincial and federal government leaders, The Knights Of Columbus among other high-profile groups. The last was laid by Veteran Affairs and for the Unknown Soldier.
A moment of silence was observed at 11:00am followed by the sound of a bugle and Scottish bagpipes. Both make my heart swell and bring a tear to my eye.
Standing beside me was a woman wearing a red bomber-style jacket. On the back was a map of the Middle East with the words Persian Gulf Tour 1990-91 Operation Friction. She was crying throughout the service.
The Canadian military served in Operation Desert Storm during this time and its involvement would be codenamed, Operation Friction.
Could she have served during this war or been close to someone who did? It was emotional to be standing beside her, knowing that she had been personally touched by war.
So many of us standing there today are so fortunate that we have not experienced combat first-hand.
Remembrance Day is a time to be thankful for the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for our freedom, and those who continue to serve on our country's behalf.
Experiencing a Remembrance Day service in person has made me want to attend them from now on.
If not for the feeling that I have while standing there and the pride in my country, but to show my respect to those who sacrificed more than I can imagine.