VE Day commemorated in CSL

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VE Day 2017 was a pedagogical affair

By: Councillor Mike Cohen

Posted: 09 May 2017

For many years the annual Victory in Europe (V-E) Day commemoration took place on a Sunday. In attendance were veterans from the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion, dignitaries and members of the community. The crowds were never exceptionally large and what we clearly missed was the younger generation.

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A Merton student reads “In Flander’s Field” as Jordy Reichson looks on.

When fellow Councillor Sidney Benizri and I were appointed co-chairs of this year’s VE Day event, we were committed to making it an educational exercise. So we scheduled it for a Monday morning (May 7) at a centrally located school – the Marymount Adult Education Centre(soon to be renamed Wagar) on Parkhaven Avenue. Principal Jacques Monfette was most gracious in making all of the arrangements. We virtually filled the 350 seat Syd Wise Auditorium with students from the two host schools – Marymount Adult Education Centre and John Grant High School; Merton and Willingdon Elementary Schools; and Solomon Schechter Academy.

The ceremony highlighted the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Europe from the armed forces of Nazi Germany, on May 8, 1945. Our Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson coordinated much of the ceremony and served as a superb master of ceremonies. He put VE Day into perspective, provided some historical notes and showed this  excellent video.

 

Two students helped lay wreaths at the front of the stage. English Montreal School Board Commissioner Bernard Praw and Mr. Monfette read the Act of Remembrance. Mayor Mitchell Brownstein, Mount Royal Liberal Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather, Israel Consul General Ziv Nevo Kulman and Elisabeth Prass (on behalf of D’Arcy McGee Liberal MNA David Birnbaum) gave remarks. Two students from Merton read From Flanders Field. We concluded with the singing of the national anthem.

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A group photo of dignitaries and the Merton students.

We were fortunate to have with us veteran Sonny Rubin, 92 years young.

“Seventy-two years ago very young men went to war,” said Mayor Brownstein. “You had to be 18 years of age. Some 15, 16 and 17 year olds got fake IDs so they could get into the armed forces. They did this to insure our freedom.”

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Ziv Nevo Kulman

Housefather pointed out that this year’s commemoration of VE Day coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “No matter who is in power,” he said, “you have rights.”

Regarding VE Day, Housefather noted that when he was our mayor VE Day was coordinated by the veterans. “We had dozens of veterans in their 70s who had fought and come back and created Côte Saint-Luc,” he recalled. “They could have come back jaded or disgruntle. But they came back and built our community.”

The Consul General told the audience that his father was a survivor of the Holocaust whose family hid in a little underground shelter and was liberated by the Soviets. “I would not be here had it not been for the Allies,” he said.

Raising the elections in France, the Consul General expressed deep concern over the fact that Marine Le Pen, a candidate whose party denies the Holocaust, got 11 million votes. “We have a very important role to remedy that so denial and revisionism does not happen again,” he said.

Thanks to staffer Jordy Reichson, Regine Banon, Cornelia Ziga and Laura Trihas for coordinating the event. We will next convene to honour our veterans on Friday, November 10 (11 am) for our Remembrance Day commemoration at Veteran’s Park next to City Hall.

“Côte Saint-Luc is proud to express gratitude to the men and women who have fought to liberate Europe,” said Mayor Brownstein. “Our veterans contributed in ending the genocide against the Jewish population of Europe and others targeted by the Nazis. Attending this ceremony is a concrete and visible manner to honour them and to reflect on the sacrifices made.”

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CSL commemorates 70th anniversary of D-Day

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Photo credit: Darryl Levine, CSL Communications

Under sunny skies on a warm spring afternoon, veterans, dignitaries, volunteers and members of the public assembled today at Cote Saint-Luc’s Veterans Park for the annual commemoration of Victory in Europe Day, commonly referred to as D Day. The eerie sound of the bagpipes summoned all to attention as flags fluttered at half mast in tribute to those who had fallen in service and paid the ultimate price.

Veterans and members of the Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion before the cenotaph in Veterans Park

Veterans and members of the Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion before the cenotaph in Veterans Park  (Photo Darryl Levine)

Mayor Anthony Housefather paid homage to those who served and returned to build Cote Saint-Luc into a modern, bustling suburban community. He lauded the veteran’s sense of community and volunteerism that paved the way for the city’s volunteer Citizens on Patrol, Emergency Medical Services and the volunteers within recreation, seniors, library and so many other groups.

“I commit to you today, that for the rest of my life I will never forget your sacrifice and service,” the mayor said, pledging to continue to undertake this annual event year after year and to continue teaching generations to come.

Native Cote Saint-Lucer and Honourary Dutch Consul Michael Polak recounted how important the Canadian contribution was to the people of the Netherlands. “Canadian grave sites (in Holland) were tended to for 70 years by grandparents, children and now grandchildren,” Polak said. “And I assure you they will continue to honour these fallen Canadian liberators for generations to come.”

I am honoured to place a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of  CSL Public Safety and all those who serve, both volunteers and professional (Photo Darryl Levine)

I am honoured to place a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of CSL Public Safety and all those who serve, both volunteer and professional (Photo Darryl Levine)

Although the veterans grow fewer in number each year it is remarkable to see their determination and resolve to participate in uniform with medals of service and bravery adorning their blue blazers. Their berets show the golden “97” depicting their branch in the Royal Canadian Legion.

My father, George Nashen, 91, proudly took his place in the front row, together with my mother. At the sounding of the bugle, his right arm, still sore from surgery last year, sprang to attention, just as it did more than 70 years ago. While his service, so many decades ago took him oversees to London as a teenager, he returned home having lost his best friend and so many comrades in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Proud to represent my city, alongside my father, who represented our country so many decades ago under horrific conditions

Proud to represent my city, alongside my father, who bravely represented our country so many decades ago under horrific conditions (Photo Darryl Levine)

On this D Day, 70 years after liberation, I also pay tribute to those who served and those who fell. I thank them all for their sacrifice to bring an end to the tyranny and murder of millions in the gas chambers and in their homes and cities. They served so that others could again live in free and democratic countries across Europe, and so we would be so fortunate here in Canada.

And I salute my own father for his service to country, to humanity and to freedom.

70th anniversary V-E Day commemoration ceremony on Sunday, May 3

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VEDay_70_years
The annual Victory in Europe (V-E) Day commemoration takes place on Sunday, May 3 at 2 pm at Veterans Park, in the city of Côte Saint-Luc.
The ceremony will highlight the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Europe form the armed forces of Nazi Germany, on May 8, 1945.
In attendance will be members of the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Mayor Anthony Housefather, the Côte Saint-Luc city council, dignitaries, veterans and residents.  To mark the 70th anniversary, Côte Saint-Luc is sending out invitations by mail to all households.
VE Day enactment of a vintage WWII RCAF paratroopers uniform

VE Day enactment of a vintage WWII RCAF paratroopers uniform

“It is important to express our gratitude to the men and women who have fought to liberate Europe,” said Councillor Ruth Kovac, who is the co-chairperson of this event with Councillor Allan J. Levine. “Our veterans contributed in ending the genocide against the Jewish population of Europe and others targeted by the Nazis. Attending this ceremony is a concrete and visible manner to honour them and to reflect on the sacrifices made.”
This year’s commemoration will be conducted by Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 President, Frank Levine. Veterans Park is located next to the City Hall and library (5801 Cavendish Blvd.) In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held indoors at the City Hall.
VE Day parade in Cote Saint-Luc 2008

VE Day parade in Cote Saint-Luc 2008

“I encourage everyone to come on May 3 and show support for our veterans who still continue to do so much for our community and look after their own,” Councillor Levine said. “Every November during the annual Poppy Fund Campaign, the veterans sit for hours in malls and grocery stores pinning endless poppies on endless lapels to collect funds. The monies collected are then returned to the community through donations to local organisations, such as the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Jewish General Hospital, the Salvation Army, the Old Brewery Mission and many others.”
George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park on VE Day 2012

George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park on VE Day 2012

The cenotaph at Veterans Park near 5851 Cavendish Blvd. honours the memory of those who gave their lives in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War.

Repeating the message of VE Day in Cote Saint-Luc

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Members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 at the 2014 VE Day Commemoration

Members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 97 join Mayor Anthony Housefather at the 2014 VE Day Commemoration

 

A chill in the air and light mist did not dampen the resolve of the aging local veterans of WWII to remember the sacrifices of their comrades and friends so many decades ago. While their numbers, sadly, diminish each year they were strongly supported by politicians, diplomats, volunteers and residents at this solemn and meaningful gathering.

Mayor Housefather eloquently said to those assembled that we are duty bound to repeat again and again, and to teach the younger generations of what our parents and grandparents did to secure our free and democratic country and to never remain silent in face of adversity. I believe that of all our mayor’s magnificent speeches throughout the year his VE Day remarks are his most heartfelt and touching ones.

 

 

Dutch Consul General Michael Polak gave a stirring account of his parents liberation from war-torn Holland and eventual emigration to Canada, where they settled in Cote Saint-Luc. Polak’s speech was both personal and emotional. He gave sincere thanks to the veterans for his family’s sake and he received a loud applause from the audience.

 

 

VE Day enactment of a vintage WWII RCAF paratroopers uniform

VE Day enactment of a vintage WWII RCAF paratrooper’s uniform

 

 

Newly elected MNA David Birnbaum represented the Government of Quebec and expressed great appreciation to the veterans gathered at this annual event. The British Consul and Israeli Consul General Joel Lion also thanked those who served oversees and laid wreaths commemorating their sacrifices on behalf of their respective countries. Former MNA Lawrence Bergman was on hand as was former Councillor Isadore Goldberg as well as Hampstead Mayor William Steinberg, Police Commander Marc Cournoyer, Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson, a contingent from the volunteer Citizens on Patrol under Supervisor Susie Schwartz and members of EMS. The RCAF band provided musical accompaniment.

In my own effort to capture a snapshot of history and pass on the messages of our dear veterans please watch the following short interview with Branch 97 President Frank Levine, Sidney Barnett and my dad, George Nashen.

 

 

 

 

 

A day of remembrance, honour and appreciation

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Victory in Europe Day was marked today in the City of Cote Saint-Luc.  This annual event marks the day in history that ended World War II.  In Cote Saint-Luc we have held our annual commemoration on VE Day for nearly two decades as our veterans have grown older and November 11 has become too cold for them outdoors and it is difficult to draw a crowd.

Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park

Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park

The event is held in Veteran’ Park on Cavendish Boulevard next to City Hall.  Dignitaries including diplomats and elected representatives from all levels of government join with clergy, veterans and their families, city staff, emergency personnel and volunteers to mark the solemn occasion.

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I was particularly pleased to have my three year old son and 10 year old daughter join me and my wife along with my father, 89 years old and a veteran of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  My father served in London, England and shares his memories of the bombardments and of friends who never returned from the front lines.

Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Emergency Medical Services honour guard

Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Emergency Medical Services honour guard: Kelly Malka, Louis-Pierre Fournier, Adam Gossack

Mayor Anthony Housefather never disappoints with his traditionally passionate speech of appreciation to those who served and to those who returned to build our city and community.

Howard Liebman, Chief of Staff to Mount Royal Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler gave an eloquent speech on behalf of the MP.  Cotler was in Jerusalem on this day.  Liebman’s speech highlighted the numerous interventions by the MP to signal gross violations of human rights, genocides and unspeakable atrocities that continue around the world.  He said that it is the obligation of all free people to speak out against such horrors such as that which is going on today in Syria, Iran, on the African continent and other hotspots around the world.

Police Commander Sylvain Bissonnette and Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson

Police Commander Sylvain Bissonnette and Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson

D’Arcy McGee Member of the National Assembly Lawrence Bergman spoke of the importance to respect those currently serving.  He singled out the PQ’s Bill 14 as being fundamentally unjust to those serving in Quebec in the Canadian Armed Forces who would be forced to educate their children in French rather than English   The provision in Bill 14 would add a level of stress upon the soldiers, Bergman said, should they be transferred with their families to another province where there children would then be at a disadvantage in an English school.

MNA Lawrence Bergman

MNA Lawrence Bergman

As the City Councillor responsible for Public Safety I was honoured to join Cote Saint-Luc Public Safety Director Jordy Reichson in laying a wreath on behalf of the department. The department includes EMS, vCOP, Public Security, Emergency Communications and Emergency Preparedness.

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The event was emceed by the Legion’s Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 president, Frank Levine. The co-chairs were Councillors Ruth Kovac and Allan J. Levine.

Members of the Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol

Members of the Cote Saint-Luc volunteer Citizens on Patrol

The hot sun and slight breeze was comforting for the aging veterans, who, sadly, are fewer in number each year.

Mayor Anthony Housefather with veterans looking on

Mayor Anthony Housefather with veterans looking on

Dutch Honourary Consul and Cote Saint-Luc resident for 25 years, Michael Pollak, noted that while not nearly enough Canadian kids are conversant and knowledgeable enough about WWII, that is certainly not the case for school kids in the Netherlands.  Pollak said that the lessons and experiences of the war are etched into Dutch psyche, and his countryman know full well about the heroic liberation led by Canadian soldiers, some of whom were likely sitting right before him in today’s crowd.

Three generations of Cote Saint-Lucers: George, Glenn and Jeremy Nashen

Three generations of Cote Saint-Lucers: George, Glenn and Jeremy Nashen

The 306 Wing Maple Leaf Concert Band:

Read more on Councillor Mike Cohen’s blog

Global News coverage

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Veteran Michael Kutz

Veteran Michael Kutz

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Howard Liebman delivers a stirring message

Howard Liebman delivers a stirring message

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Mayor Anthony Housefather with veterans looking on

Mayor Anthony Housefather with veterans looking on

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Legion member Sandy Bernstein

Legion member Sandy Bernstein

vCOP Team Leader Elaine Meunier

vCOP Team Leader Elaine Meunier

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V-E Day commemoration ceremony in Côte Saint-Luc on Sunday, May 5, 2013

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Royal Canadian Legion

Royal Canadian Legion (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Members of the Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Mayor Anthony Housefather, the Côte Saint-Luc city council, dignitaries, veterans and residents will commemorate Victory in Europe (V-E) Day on Sunday, May 5 at 2 pm at Veterans Park.

 

“My generation and those of my children and grandchildren will never be able to fully pay back the Canadian soldiers who fought to defeat tyranny during the Second World War,” said Ruth Kovac, who is the co-chairperson of this event with Councillor Allan J. Levine. “By liberating Europe our veterans also ended the genocide against the Jewish population of Europe and others targeted by the Nazis.”

 

VE Day parade in Cote Saint-Luc 2008

VE Day parade in Cote Saint-Luc 2008

Councillor Levine said we must continue to honour those who have served and those families who lost loved ones for our country.

 

“I encourage everyone to come on May 5 and show support for our veterans who still continue to do so much for our community and look after their own,” Councillor Levine said. “Indeed, this year our veterans raised more than $31,000 during last November’s Poppy Fund Campaign. Those funds were then returned to the community through donations to local organisations, such as the Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation, the Royal Victoria Hospital, the Jewish General Hospital, the Salvation Army, the Old Brewery Mission and many others.”

 

Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veteran's Park

Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veteran’s Park

Victory in Europe (V-E) Day was May 8, 1945, the date when the Second World War Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany. The cenotaph at Veterans Park honours the memory of those who gave their lives in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War.

 

VE Day 2008: Mayor and City Council with Parade Marshall Bob Feldstein in CSL Veterans Park

VE Day 2008: Mayor and City Council with Parade Marshall Bob Feldstein in CSL Veterans Park

This year’s commemoration will be conducted by Brigadier Frederick Kisch Branch 97 President, Frank Levine. Veterans Park is located next to the City Hall and library (5801 Cavendish Blvd.) In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held indoors at the City Hall.

George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park on VE Day 2012

George Nashen in front of the Cote Saint-Luc cenotaph in Veterans Park on VE Day 2012

Victory in Europe commemorated in Cote Saint-Luc

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Each year Cote Saint-Luc salutes its veterans and remembers those who have passed.  V-E Day takes place on the first Sunday in May.  Unfortunately, the crowd of veterans grows thinner each year and those still attending grow a little more frail, a little older.  Their ages have now reached the upper 80s and many into their 90s.

The Cote Saint-Luc ceremony is solemn and meaningful.  Remarks are given by members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the diplomatic corps, municipal officials and a military band and trumpeter provide musical accompaniment.  The Master of Ceremony was Frank Levine, a veteran of the Second World War and local Legion president. The event co-chairpersons were councillors Allan J. Levine and Ruth Kovac.

I have been attending the Cote Saint-Luc ceremony for some 32 years since I first joined the CSL Emergency Measures Organization in 1979.  Back then, EMO members would march, 30 or 40 strong, from 8100 CSL Road to the CSL Shopping Centre where we would meet up with hundreds of veterans, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, scouts and other volunteers.  The larger parade, including marching bands would make its way further down CSL Road to the reviewing stand near the fire station and the parade would assemble at the old cenotaph at Father Foley Park between the fire station and the post office.  Hundreds of spectators would line the street.

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Today’s assembly is smaller.  The event is simpler.  But it is still very important to remember.  Mayor Anthony Housefather spoke eloquently about the veteran’s returning from WWII who built CSL into a modern and thriving urban city.  He thanked them for their dedication in building our community.

I am fortunate to once again have attended with my father, George Nashen, a veteran of the RCAF who served in England from 1942-1946.  I salute him, the members of the Brigadier Fredrick Kisch Branch 97 of the Royal Canadian Legion and all those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

We will remember them.

View more photos on the Cote Saint-Luc Flikr page.

Read more on Mike Cohen’s blog.

Read more in the Suburban.

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