By Grace Benac
November 11, 2011 may have gone down in history as a day to make wishes about the future, but for a sizeable crowd of Ryerson staff and students, it was a day to remember sacrifices made in the past.
Teachers, students and support staff gathered in the Kerr Hall quad Friday morning to honour Remembrance Day. The ceremony was opened by Administration and Finance vice-president Julia Hanigsberg. In her opening address, Hanigsberg paid respects to the soldiers and peacekeepers who have risked their lives on Canada’s behalf.
“The peace and prosperity we enjoy today is only possible because of these Canadians who put their lives on the line.”
The occasion was especially poignant in light of Ryerson’s colourful wartime past. The Ryerson campus was originally the site of the Toronto Normal School, Ontario’s first training institution for teachers. Between 1941 and 1945, the site was used as a facility to train the Royal Canadian Air Force for battle in the Second World War.
After a group rendition of ‘O Canada,’ computer science professor and retired Canadian Forces captain Alex Ferworn did a reading of classic Remembrance Day poem ‘In Flanders Fields.’
Some students, like fourth-year Arts and Contemporary studies major Kathleen Fowler, attended the ceremony to remember someone specific.
“I came out today to pay respects to people like my great-uncle, who flew a fighter plane during World War 2.”
Ryerson event coordinator Angela Wong, who facilitated the presentation, said that community-organized ceremonies such as this one are an ideal way to remember.
“This was a very intimate setting and a wonderful way to remember.”
While Wong didn’t have any family involved in the wars, she said the occasion was important to her as a Canadian citizen.
“We, as Canadians, feel so proud of our troops. “
The crowd followed tradition by observing two minutes of silence at 11 am, after military bugle call ‘The Last Post’ was played. At this point, several students who were absent for the beginning of the presentation joined the periphery of the gathering. First-year Technical Theatre Production student Emily Dyck, who had spent the morning working on a mid-term project, was one of them. Dyck said she devoted the few spare moments she had that day to attending the tail end of the ceremony.
“Even though everyone keeps saying ‘Lest we forget,’ it seems like we’re kind of forgetting [the soldiers’] contributions and how lucky we are because of them. I think it’s really important to remember the past and where we came from,” she said.
Ruth Abbott, the newly appointed assistant vice president of the Ryerson’s marketing and communications department, also had positive things to say about the presentation.
“Being new to Ryerson, I thought I should participate. I thought [the ceremony] was really moving and lovely.”
Abbott said she makes a point of attending Remembrance Day events every year.
The presentation concluded with a trumpet performance of Reveille. Hanigsberg, in her closing thoughts, stressed the importance of remembering those who fought and perished in Canada’s various war efforts, from the two World Wars and the Korean War to the more recent Afghanistan mission.
“Let us always strive to find ways to honour their courage.”