Ste. Anne’s Hospital veterans commemorate Remembrance Day


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Gino Moretti (saluting) who represented modern-day veterans stands at attention during a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate Remembrance Day at Ste. Anne’s Hospital on November 3.

A wreath laying ceremony was held last Sunday, November 3, to honour the Canadian soldiers who participated in the Italian Campaign during World War II as part of Veteran’s Week which is being held at Ste. Anne’s Hospital in Ste. Anne de Bellevue until November 11 to mark Remembrance Day.

Veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War, and during Canada’s military campaign in Afghanistan, paid tribute to their fallen comrades. The families of veterans, Ste. Anne’s hospital staff and representatives from the Montreal West Island Integrated University Health and Social Services Centre which administers the hospital, also took part in the ceremony.

35 years of military service

Retired Lieutenant-General Michel Maisonneuve from Port Dalhousie, Ontario, who served as the Master of Ceremony, said he was honoured to participate in the event.

“I’m always very touched at these commemorations. I think of all our veterans and I also think about today’s young soldiers, sailors and airmen who are serving of which I have two in my family. My wife was also in the military. Altogether, we cover more than 80 years of service,” Maisonneuve told The Journal.

“I served 35 years in the army and my wife 21 years in the air force. My son has been in the navy for 18 years and my daughter a couple of years in the army. There’s a good turnout today which is nice to see,” he added.

Remembering soldiers’ sacrifices

Maisonneuve paid tribute to all soldiers who served and continue to serve their country and to the hospital staff who continue to provide much needed assistance to veterans.

“On Remembrance Day, the one day we should remember the sacrifices of our fellow Canadians who defended our freedom and values, often at the peril of their lives, it is our duty to do so. So many of them did not return, so many of them gave their lives for us,” said Maisonneuve.

Operation Overlord

Joyce Saunders, who served during World War II and represented female veterans, said she was touched by the tribute for Canada’s fallen soldiers and veterans who served their country. Saunders was involved in Operation Overlord, the code name for D-Day when allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

“I did the paperwork so I knew what was happening. I knew it was called Overlord and when we kept seeing this coming up, we knew something was happening but we didn’t know what or where,” said Saunders.

A somber remembrance

For World War II veteran Jean Trempe, Remembrance Day is a somber occasion to remember his fellow soldiers who didn’t it make it back home after combat. “My heart was double the speed during today’s ceremony,” said Trempe.

“I was in France, Holland and Germany. When I go to the cemetery and I see the tombstones of people who died at age 18 and 19 and I’m still here, it gives me a funny feeling. But we did what we were supposed to do,” he added.

Paying homage to the fallen

World War II veteran Wolf Solkin said the commemoration of Remembrance Day was held early at the hospital was held so it wouldn’t conflict with the official day.

“We’re laying wreathes today in honour of various groups of people who have represented and helped the veterans at Ste. Anne’s and who deserve the honour of commemorating the fallen from all wars,” said Solkin.

“The entire Ste. Anne’s veterans committee is here today,” he added. “We selected various representatives of the various armed forces – army, navy, air force, and merchant marine – volunteers and devoted employees to participate. We’ve been given the honour of paying honour to our fallen Canadian soldiers.”

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