Thunder Bay marks Remembrance Day
Ceremonies held at Fort William Gardens, Waverley Park
Hundreds of Thunder Bay residents braved Monday morning's cold to honour the sacrifices made by those who served in Canada's Armed Forces.
The city held two ceremonies on the morning of Monday, Nov. 11 — Remembrance Day — with one taking place at the Fort William Gardens, and the other at the Waverley Park Cenotaph.
"There is no greater sacrifice than someone risking their lives for ours," Col. Geoff Abthorpe said during his keynote address, given in front of more than 1,000 people at the Fort William Gardens. "Our veterans have done that. Those of use who continue to serve today have been inspired by their example, and we make the same commitment."
"It is important that we remember the stories of courage and selflessness, because our veterans have made possible the freedom and peace that we enjoy today."
In his address, Abthorpe noted 2019 marked three major Canadian military anniversaries.
This year, Abthorpe said, is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and the Battle of Normandy.
"The [English] channel was full of vessels, like the HMCS Fort William, built in the Port Arthur shipyard," he said. "The air above the channel was filled with aircraft, like the Hawker Hurricanes, built at Canada Car and Foundry in Fort William."
"A staggering 150,000 Allied troops were involved in the invasion that day; 14,000 of them were Canadian," he said. "And many men and women from northwestern Ontario served in units like the 4th Field Ambulance and the Lake Superior Regiment, to name a few."
"Three-hundred and fifty-nine Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice on D-Day."
Abthorpe noted 2019 also marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the fifth anniversary of the end of Canada's mission in Afghanistan.
"[Agthanistan] was the biggest deployment of Canadian troops since the Second World War," he said. "Many of our beloved country, and from our region, paid the ultimate sacrifice: Private Robert Costall, Corporal Anthony Boneca, Private Joshua Klukie, who was under my command that day."
On Thunder Bay's north side, a large crowd of people gathered in Waverley Park to mark Remembrance Day.
Among them was Carol Klukie, Joshua Klukie's mother.
"It means a lot to me," she said of Remembrance day. "It's not just my son, but all the guys he was over there with, and what they're going through."
"I think of my uncles in the Second World War, the lives lost in the first," she said. "A lot of thoughts."
Klukie said there are many Canadian veterans who need help, and she called on the public not to forget them.
"I've met several of them," she said. "The aftermath is traumatic for them, their families."
"I hope they don't forget them."
That was a topic touched on by Abthorpe during his speech at the Fort William Gardens, as well.
"There's another group, I think, that needs to be mentioned: more than 155 active serving Afghan vets who've taken their own lives, and the countless number of reservists who continue to succumb to their demons," he said. "It is estimated that there are around three to four thousand homeless veterans living in Canada, with most suffering from operation stress injury and PTSD."
Abthorpe called on Canadians to remember and honour those who "are buried here at home, who gave their all to defend our country, but could not defend themselves."