Durham College, Ontario Tech honour our veterans on Remembrance Day

Wreaths displayed in front of the stage during the Remembrance Day ceremony at Durham College and Ontario Tech University on Nov. 11. Photo credit: Tara Sottile

Durham College (DC) and Ontario Tech University came together on Remembrance Day to honour those who have risked their lives for the freedom of our country.

The gym in the Campus Recreation and Wellness Centre was packed with students, faculty, staff, and members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Veteran Richard O’Connor was one of the speakers at the Nov. 11 ceremony. His speech was full of emotion and left a heavy silence hanging over the audience.

“A friend of mine was killed in Yugoslavia,” he said as he fought back tears. “I take this time to remember him every year.”

He reminded everyone of how quickly things can change in a war.

“All of a sudden, you’re peaceful and the next thing you know, you’re in danger,” O’Connor said. “It changes in seconds.”

Ontario Tech University president Stephen Murphy was another attendee at the event. He spoke about the day’s importance as he reminisced about his first encounter with war.

“[It] was through my great uncle, who was serving with an Irish regiment,” he said. “He was given the task of clearing the beach for a group of Canadians in Normandy.”

Murphy said his great uncle didn’t speak about his experiences very often and described him as being proud but silent.

He said his story was important to share because it’s what brings people together on such a “solemn occasion.

“It highlights what so many of us have somewhere in our families,” Murphy explained. “We’ve all experienced hardship in many different ways.”

Members of the audience also felt strongly about the ceremony. Veronica Trask, the marketing manager for Durham College Students Inc. (DCSI) said the event was very impactful.

“[We need] to understand what others have gone through and how we are privileged to be here,” she said. “It’s always great to come and pay respect in this kind of way.”

Don Lovisa, the president of Durham College, also spoke at the event. He took the time to share his appreciation for those who have “put their lives on hold” to protect our freedom.

“It’s so important to remember their sacrifices as we work, study and enjoy our lives,” he explained. “For without those heroes, where would we be today?”