Hundreds of people, many wearing red poppies, gathered at McGill’s downtown campus on Nov. 11 to attend Montreal’s official Remembrance Day ceremony.
When the clock struck a.m. that morning, a moment of silence was held to remember Canadians who fought in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, as well as those who have participated in other missions over the years.
The ceremony included a military performance complete with bagpipes, trumpets, and drums. Two helicopters hovered over the field after a 21-gun salute at 11 a.m. covered the area with smoke.
“It was a touching ceremony, we’re proud to have defended this country,” said Jean Paul SauvÃ©, a veteran of the Second World War.
SauvÃ© signed up when he was 19. He was trained in Newfoundland before being sent to the Pacific Front. He was also stationed in Europe and Africa.
“I was in Hong Kong, redirected to Europe, [which was] 20 days at sea from Nova Scotia, and then accessed the Mediterranean to invade Italy,” he said, recalling some of his military past. “One year in Italy, then to France toward Germany and into Holland to help defend the dikes.”
SauvÃ© believes the ceremony should be held every year as a constant reminder.
“It has to take place every year so we remember that we have to defend our country and the weak.”
The ceremony’s guest of honour, Lieutenant Governor Pierre Duchesne, was the first to lay a wreath. He was followed by Mayor GÃ©rald Tremblay, then the minister of immigration and culture, SÃ»retÃ© du QuÃ©bec and Veterans Affairs Canada officials, as well as many others.
“It’s not about war, it’s about keeping peace,” said Sasha Lee, whose late father, George Roberts, was a veteran stationed in Holland during World War II.
“He was part of the liberation of Holland, part of three campaigns in that area,” she said. “I grew up always knowing about the war, he always spoke about it.”
Lee believes the Remembrance Day ceremony is important to remind generations who never had to endure war to show respect for those who did.
This was the second year in a row that the ceremony was held at McGill due to renovations at Place du Canada.
“It was a very good ceremony. It was great to have it here at McGill because there’s much more room”, said Jack Ansley, who was at McGill in 1955. He was too young to sign up for the Second World War, but his father and three uncles all did.
The ceremony closed with the playing of the national anthem.