Daily Mail front page 8th May 1945. Headline 'VE-Day- It's All Over

Daily Mail front page 8th May 1945. Headline ‘VE-Day- It’s All Over

On this appropriately dreary, drizzly Sunday afternoon, the City of Cote Saint-Luc commemorated V-E Day at City Hall. The ceremony was held in a jam-packed Council Chamber as veterans and family members joined local dignitaries and residents to pay tribute to the veterans of WWII, as well as the Korean War and other conflicts that the Canadian Armed Forces participated in such as in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Also, recognized were the victims of the Holocaust as well as the survivors.

WWII veterans at CSL City Hall, including Eddy Wolkove (seated left), Allan Rubin (seated right), former cllr. Isadore Goldberg and George Nashen

WWII veterans at CSL City Hall, including Eddy Wolkove (seated left), Allan Rubin (seated right), former cllr. Isadore Goldberg and George Nashen

CSL Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson ably served as master of ceremonies. Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion local president Frank Levine read the ceremonial poem, “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We Will Remember Them”. Wreaths were laid by all level of government as well as by representatives of the US, the Netherlands and Israel.

Veterans of WWII are joined by municipal, provincial and federal representatives along with consuls of the US, the Netherlands and Israel

Veterans of WWII are joined by municipal, provincial and federal representatives along with consuls of the US, the Netherlands and Israel

This was Anthony Housefather’s first VE Day commemoration in his capacity as Member of Parliament. He delivered his signature passionate and emotional address gripping the audience, once again without any prepared text. “On behalf of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Government of Canada, and in my own name, I think you, veterans, for your sacrifice and for your service, for returning home and for building a great nation and this wonderful City of Cote Saint-Luc,” he said to applause.

Honour Guard Flag Bearers representing CSL EMS, vCOP and the Royal Canadian Legion

Honour Guard Flag Bearers representing CSL EMS, vCOP and the Royal Canadian Legion

Also in his first major public event appearance was newly minted Mayor Mitchell Brownstein. Impressively, he followed in his predecessor’s very large footsteps by addressing the audience with eloquence and passion, again with nary a note in sight. “You have built our wonderful city, you have volunteered and you have given so much of yourselves,” the mayor said. “This is our moment to thank each of you, to recognize your important contributions.”

V-E Day commemoration 2016

V-E Day commemoration 2016

D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, an articulate and skilled public orator, echoed the sentiment of offering thanks to the veterans, an important and much revered constituency in his provincial riding. Michael Polak, Honourary Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and a self-described “son of Cote Saint-Luc”, pointed out that the reason we have four generations of Cote Saint-Lucers, ample volunteers, a high level of local services and beautiful homes is because of the veterans who returned from the war to build the community with great pride.

The 306 Maple Leaf Wing Concert Band belted out military bugle calls and music of that era, along with the national anthem.

Four generations: Survivor Ilse Zilversmith, Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Debbie Kovac and Nicole and Danielle Jutras lay a memorial wreath for victims of the Holocaust

Four generations: Survivor Ilse Zilversmit, Cllr. Ruth Kovac, Debbie Kovac and Nicole and Danielle Jutras lay a memorial wreath for victims of the Holocaust

While the number of veterans sadly continues to dwindle I once again pay tribute to my own father, George Nashen, who was in attendance today in full regalia. A sharp and spry 92 years young, my father  fluttered around the room as he might have done back in the days in service uniform, joking with his buddies and hobnobbing with dignitaries, all of whom know him by first name, as he does theirs.

Montreal Police Station 9 Commander Jean O'Malley deposits a wreath

Montreal Police Station 9 Commander Jean O’Malley deposits a wreath

As a graduate of Baron Byng High School in 1939, he joined the rush to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces together with so many classmates including, Joel Gertel, Jay Singer, Lenny Keller, Saul Finesilver, and Eddy Wolkove. After basic training at Toronto Exhibition Grounds for six weeks at the age of 19 he was posted to Rockliffe Airport just outside of Ottawa. Much to his surprise, he failed Air Crew in the Canadian Armed Forces due to a previously unknown colour blindness. Therefore, he served in accounting, his intended profession, having previously worked for Richter for  3 1/2 years out of high school.

After a six month stint at Rockliffe he boarded a train for Halifax to meet up with servicemen from across Canada. An unimaginable 26,000 troops crammed aboard the HMS Queen Mary, built to comfortably hold about 2,000 tourist passengers. The Queen Mary could out-speed all the German U-boats so no escort was necessary unlike most ships traversing the ocean.

Posted to Linton in Yorkshire for a short two weeks he was then transferred to London where he served in the United Kingdom Base Accounting Unit at Harrods of London.

Three generations of CSLers: Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen, RCAF Veteran George Nashen and Jeremy Nashen

Three generations of CSLers: Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen, RCAF Veteran George Nashen and Jeremy Nashen

My father’s duties in the RCAF from 1943-1946 included handling pay for all RCAF servicemen and women stationed across Europe and Africa.  And while he would endure persistent bombardments, blackouts, rationing and the daily fear of war as did the common Londoner, his buddies would not be so fortunate as many never returned. Such was the case for Joel Gertel and Jay Singer, childhood friends, killed in action.

Veterans George Nashen and Allan Rubin along with Mayor Mitchell Brwonstein, MNA David Birnbaum and MP Anthony Housefather. Also with CSL Men's Club President Sydney Kronish.

Veterans George Nashen and Allan Rubin along with Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, MNA David Birnbaum and MP Anthony Housefather. Also with CSL Men’s Club President Sydney Kronish.

My father recalls V-E Day, May 8, 1945 with acuity. He was outside Buckingham Palace with tens of thousands of troops and civilians celebrating the end of the war. He stayed on in London until April 1946 in order to handle the accounting of all those slowly being repatriated to Canada.

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

Sergeant George Nashen, Royal Canadian Air Force, 1944

So as we commemorate the 71st anniversary of V-E Day, today’s ceremony, and the stories we learn, serve as a reminder to offer thanks and appreciation to our veterans for enabling the following generations to live in peace in one of the best places to live anywhere in the world.

 

Cllr. Allan J. Levine and Branch 97 President Frank Levine

Cllr. Allan J. Levine and Branch 97 President Frank Levine

 

Fekllow Dutchmen: Cllr. Ruth Kovac and Hon. Consul Micahel Polack

Fellow Dutchmen: Cllr. Ruth Kovac and Hon. Consul Michael Polak

 

Celebrating US relations: NY born Franci Nashen, Cambridge, Mass. born Phyllis Nashen, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen and US Consul Mary Eileen Earl

Celebrating US relations: NY born Franci Nashen, Cambridge, Mass. born Phyllis Nashen, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen and US Consul Mary Eileen Earl

 

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Read more on Cllr. Mike Cohen’s blog.