TORONTO — Ontario Premier Doug Ford encouraged Canadians to remember soldiers past and present Sunday as they reflected on the centennial anniversary of the end of the First World War.
“Canadian heroes span every conflict and every generation,” Ford told a crowd assembled in front of the Ontario Veterans’ Memorial at the provincial legislature.
“Many made the ultimate sacrifice, and for that — for keeping our country safe, we will be forever grateful,” he said. “Because of their courage and sacrifice, most Canadians will never know the horrors of war.”
The Remembrance Day ceremony saw as many as 500 troops march towards Queen’s Park while John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” was read aloud.
The Queen’s Park ceremony was one of many similar events held at legions, cenotaphs and churches across the province.
The ceremony also included a 21-gun salute, laying of wreaths and a quartet that sang “Amazing Grace.”
Lt.-Gov. Elizabeth Dowdeswell addressed the assembled crowd, saying that while immense progress has been made in the last century, we must not forget the lessons of the past.
“Today we are living in strange and uncertain times — times when democracies around the world are fragile. We face significant change that all too often threatens to tear us apart,” she said.
“In many ways that’s an age old story,” she said. “History’s many conflicts, the ones we remember today, must remind us of our mutual vulnerability and of the imperative to do our utmost to foster empathy and peace.”
Richard Rohmer, honorary lieutenant-general for the Canadian Armed Forces and veteran of the Second World War, also spoke to the crowd and acknowledged the soldiers who served before him.
“I am six years younger than the event today which turns 100,” he noted, referencing the signing of the armistice that ended the fighting in 1918.
Ford said his government is forever grateful for the sacrifices soldiers have made, and listed some of his efforts to make veterans’ lives “a little easier.”
He said that includes planned legislation that would “ease the burden” on Ontario’s Royal Canadian Legion halls by ensuring they pay no property tax.
“We’re doing what we can to show our gratitude to the heroes who still walk amongst us today, and ensure their sacrifices will never be forgotten,” said Ford. “Ontario will always stand with you. And we will always honour your legacy and service.”
Alanna Rizza, The Canadian Press