A St. Michael's College School student lays a poppy inside a hollowed-out cross. Photo by Evan Boudreau

A day to remember the few who sacrificed for the many

By 
  • November 11, 2015

TORONTO - Taking the time to remind ourselves of the sacrifices made by others for our freedom is what makes Remembrance Day ceremonies so special, St. Michael's College School vice-principal David Lee told his students.

“The Remembrance Day service is a very special event,” he said. “It gives our community an opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice made by the men and women in our armed forces.”

poppy2So staff reminded the boys at the midtown Toronto private Catholic school to button their shirts and tighten their ties — “military are in the building” — in honour of the few who sacrificed so much for so many.

“Taking an hour to participate here respectfully, wearing a poppy, personally thanking veterans and singing our national anthem proudly in unison, these things are the least we can do to ensure the sacrifices do not go unrecognized,” said master of ceremonies Pat Mancuso.”Demonstrating our sincerest gratitude is the order of the day.”

In doing so, students took part in the normal Remembrance Day activities — a reading of “Flanders Field,” playing the “Last Post” and singing “O Canada,” all while standing at attention. The school also rounded up a number of veterans to be present, including Maj. Frank Lamie, a member of the St. Mike's class of 1998.

Maj. Matthew Aggus, one of the other veterans present for the solemn ceremony, tried to explain to the students what compels someone to trade the comforts of civilian life for the dangers of being a soldier.

“As long as there are people on this planet there will be terrible people,” he said. “And as long as there are terrible people there will be good people looking to stop them.”

Fulfilling that duty comes with serious risks which must not go overlooked, said Mancuso

“The sacrifices veterans have made and continue to make cannot be overstated,” he said. “Tragically veterans often will sacrifice their own physical and mental health and even their own lives.”

During the Second World War alone about 1.1 million Canadians served overseas on European, African and Asian battlefields with more than 42,000 never returning to civilian life. Three decades earlier during the First World War, more than 620,000 Canadians were mobilized for the war effort with about 67,000 paying the ultimate price.

poppy3Since 1945 Canadian soldiers have played significant roles — and paid the ultimate sacrifice — in both the Korean War and the conflict in Afghanistan, as well as numerous peacekeeping operations.  

To remember those who lost their lives, the students at St. Michael's removed their poppies and placed them into a large cross-shaped container. In the years to come students will continue to fill up the container, a symbolic reminder that casualties of war are not just something of the past.

“We will speak often today about the veterans who fought wars decades ago. This is only natural,” said Mancuso. “Much of our appreciation however must also be directed to recognizing sacrifices made in more recent times and even in our own home and native land.”

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