Centennial College honoured Jewish-Canadian veterans on Nov. 10 in an intimate ceremony at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall on Pape Avenue.
From the parade square at Danforth Tech, Alina Farrukh can see the loftiest of goals.
“You get to learn about clouds and stuff that I would not learn at home or with any other program,” Farrukh said.
Farrukh, 14, says her ultimate goal is to get her pilot licence through the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and to pursue her dream to fly air force aircraft.
Cathy Andrews volunteers at the Royal Canadian Legion in part as tribute to her grandfather. She said Wilfred Edwin Andrews was a quiet man who served as an acting lance corporal during the period the Great War.
He served with the 169th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His granddaughter, ladies auxiliary president, honours his memory.
Morris Polansky worries that Canadians don’t understand the relevance of Remembrance Day.
“I spend a lot of time with the Legion, and we spend a lot of time delivering great bags of poppies to schools,” Polansky said.
Polansky, 95, is a Jewish-Canadian war veteran, who works with the Royal Canadian Legion to distribute poppies to different Toronto schools and subway stations. He is the vice-president of General Wingate Legion, Branch 256, the only Jewish-based branch in the organization.
Mildred Kennedy’s family served Canada in its armed forces, but few noticed.
“It was lonely,” she said.
Mildred Kennedy is the widow of Gottfried Kennedy, a Royal Canadian Air Force photographer, who served in the military in 1967, during the Cold War in the Canadian Arctic.
On a moonlit night in June 1944, Martin Maxwell, a glider pilot with Allied forces, landed his aircraft near a bridge in Normandy, France. He then joined invasion troops seizing the bridge and quietly killing the German sentries with bayonets. Maxwell, 20, hadn’t even finished high school.
“It didn’t feel good, let me tell you that,” he said. “It changed my life; the war made me who I am.”
Maxwell, now 92, was born in Austria in 1924. He will be speaking of his service in the Second World War during a Remembrance Day observance at Centennial College’s East York campus on Nov. 11.
Despite the destruction and chaos of war, Sid Giddings’ father thought constantly of home.
“He said when he was lying there and bullets were flying around his head … all he thought about was my mom and me,” Giddings said.
William Lines remembers that the Second World War changed his life … for the better. “I got a wife out of it,” he said with a smile. “I met her in Montreal. I wouldn’t have met her if I hadn’t been stationed there.” Lines added that he also received a valuable education during the war and that led to employment with Bell Canada after the war.
Freda McDougall remembers her childhood in Toronto during the Second World War. “We had to have lights out,” she said. “Everything was blacked out. So he would have to go around with a flashlight and tell people, ‘You shouldn’t be letting any light out just in case they ever came to attack us.”
In 1944, William O’Leary lied about his age and enlisted as a galley boy in the Merchant Marine. He was 15 years old. “I’ve sailed all over the world,” said O’Leary, who embarked from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on a ship carrying food, ammunitions and coal to Allied forces at the end of the Second World War. En route to Odessa, Russia, his ship travelled through the North Atlantic, a playground, he said, for German U-boats that were notorious for picking off slow convoys of ships heading into and out of Canada.