Remembrance Day ceremonies at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre drew an overflow crowd of several hundred people Sunday to honour veterans of the Second World War, the Korean and other conflicts on the centennial anniversary of the First World War.
Attendees included military veterans who call Sunnybrook Hospital’s care facility home, along with a strong showing of young people committed to remembering those who served.
“People did this for us so we have to care for them,” said Alison Brandt, 8, after she and her mother presented a handcrafted message to 94-year-old Michael Boyer, who volunteered with the Canadian Army at 18 and saw combat in Normandy with the 4th Artillery Regiment during the Second World War.
Boyer is one of the 475 veterans who live at the Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto, the largest care facility of its kind in the country, and was one of several veterans who braved the cold to attend the centre’s outdoor cenotaph service. “I think a lot of people still remember,” Boyer said. “I appreciate it. It’s very kind of them.”
The sentiment was echoed by Richard Ratcliffe, a Korean War veteran who is also president of the Sunnybrook centre’s veterans council. He commented on the rich history of the facility, which was founded in 1948 at what is now the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and said “it is my hope that the youth will carry on the tradition forever.”
The ceremonies were also attended by the children of veterans who have lived at the Sunnybrook facility such as Cathy Vera Robson, who said her father Christopher enjoyed his time there and who said she attends Remembrance Day services at Sunnybrook every year.
Dignitaries including Don Valley West MPP and former Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne were also on hand while 17-year-old FSgt Izaac Plourde of the 246 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron offered a Remembrance Day tribute, telling the cenotaph gathering that he struggles to comprehend the courage of veterans “who put their life on the line at such a young age.”
The Remembrance Day ceremonies were preceded by the planting of 47,500 Canadian flags by volunteers around the 90-acre Sunnybrook campus. In its eighth year, Operation Red Flag encourages Canadians to send a personal note of thanks and a donation to support veterans residing at the centre with “special extras” such as continued learning opportunities.