Remembering the sacrifices of Canada’s soldiers

Over 200 people from the York community braved the cold wind and grey skies to gather at the flagpole on the Harry Arthurs Common yesterday. They were there to remember Canadian soldiers who went into battle to secure our freedom. 

Right: Lorna R. Marsden talks to the crowd about the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers

Those on hand were led from the Vari Hall rotunda by Pipe Major Ian Macdonald to the site of the flagpole. Vice President Finance and Administration Gary Brewer, acting as the master of ceremonies, welcomed everyone to the solemn event. 

“As we think about the state of affairs of the world in so many parts of the world, we quickly to realize that peace is a very fragile thing and easily jeopordized,” said Brewer. “And, how important it is to remember the men and women who served in the wars and who lost their lives. They ensured our freedom.”

Marsden thanked the people who turned out to the ceremony and the construction crews who had stopped their activity so that the ceremony could proceed. “This year we would like to pay special tribute to Canada’s veterans of the Italian Campaign,” said Marsden. “It was a very important military effort for Canada. Sixty years ago, between the summer of 1943 and early 1945, some 100,000 young Canadian  men and women served this country in Italy. Among them, there were 26,000 casualites and nearly 6,000 Canadians who lost their lives. Along with the allies from Great Britain, France and the United States, these troops moved from the south to the north of Italy over a 20-month period. This campaign marked Canada’s full engagement in the Western Allies return to the continent of Europe. Canadians serving both overseas and here at home, showed how committed this country was to preserving freedom.

“They fought in the dust and the heat of summer, the snow and the cold of winter, and the rain and mud of spring. The York community remembers the sacrifices of these and many other veterans who died for the cause of freedom,” said Marsden.

Brewer then introduced Albert Tucker, president of the York University Retirees Association, who read “The Death-Bed”, a gritty poem by Siegfried Sasson, a member of the Royal Welsh Regiment. 

Right: Albert Tucker (left) and Lorna R. Marsden lay a wreath of remembrance

Trumpeter Randall Pilson, a York student, played “Last Post” and “Reveille”. Following these presentations, there was a minute of silence.

Sgt. Dan Brown laid a wreath on behalf of all veterans. Sgt. Wes Jenkins laid a wreath on behalf of the Royal Regiment of Canada. Marsden and Tucker laid a wreath on behalf of York University and Grace Saati on behalf of students. Representatives of Veterans Affairs Canada were also on hand to lay a wreath in remembrance. The ceremony concluded with Sgt. Brown, who read “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae.