Remembrance Day

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A war that nearly stole a family from a soldier

Six months, was what they told him. Sitting in the back of a truck, he was being driven to a place unknown. All he knew was his destination was in another province up north. He was among 450 fellow officials and soldiers. Each minute that passed was a kilometre farther away from his loved ones. Little did he know, those six months would become eight years. Colonel Khamtanh Thirakul, who served in the Royal Lao Army, found himself at a prisoner-of-war camp in 1976. In a fenced-off area in the middle of a forest, the men were instructed to build a tent to live in, from scratch. Each tent would house up to 35 men. It did not take long for the men to realize that this will not be a short stay. “That’s the way they lie to you,” Khamprasith Thirakul, son of Khamtanh Thirakul, said. The camp became a prison.

Mapping Toronto’s war memorials

Remembrance Day is one of the few days each year that we take time out of our busy lives and appreciate the past. Here in the GTA, there are many different memorials that serve as a permanent reminders to those who paid the ultimate price.

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Cadets gain education and sense of respect

Moera Hunter wears the uniform of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets to help her understand the significance of Nov. 11. “It brings honour,” she said.

Moera, 12, joined the Air Cadets two months ago. During the lead-up to Remembrance Day, she’s been selling poppies for the first time on Pape Avenue in East York even in freezing temperatures and chilling winds.

“I think everyday people … every race, culture, generation, religion, all of them should remember … (those) who have given them all that they have today – the freedom, the ability to walk onto the street,” she said.

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Poppy volunteer remembers a father’s military service

This week, Joanne Barden stood at the entrance of the newly opened Target store on Danforth Avenue. She had a box of poppies slung around her neck. “Two young men… they took poppies and made a donation … and they told me they respected our veterans very much, and they respected the military, and I found that extremely rewarding,” Barden said.

Never forgotten

Silence. One of the rarest moments in a year where an entire building is filled with men, women, adolescence, children, and elders, yet not one word is spoken. The sound of occasional coughs appear, but it hardly made a difference as the atmosphere becomes serious and thoughtful.