By: Ewa Chwojko-Srawley
“We shall never forget their sacrifice,” declared Wayne Erison, President of the Sutton Royal Canadian Legion Branch 356, in his emotional address to the Georgina community at the unveiling of the Veterans Memorial Mural.
Many shed tears when Mrs. Anne Wilson from Keswick uncovered a photograph of her son, Warrant Officer Robert Wilson, killed in action in Afghanistan in 2008. When tragedy strikes so close to home it dawns on us how precious peace can be, and how grateful we should be to all those brave military women and men who risk their lives to protect our freedom.
The unveiling began with a smudging ceremony by Shelley Charles and Suzanne Howes, Elders of the Chippewas of Georgina Island, followed by a blessing by Major Helen Bulmer from the Salvation Army. A touching moment was when Mrs. Bulmer also unveiled a photograph of her late husband, Major Max Bulmer, who served as a minister to Canadian Forces in Europe after the Second World War. Shelley Charles recalled her uncle, Fred Jones, who fought during WW II and served as a peacekeeper in Holland. She added He would be so happy to see how all the people work together today to acknowledge First Nations servicemen.
Several special guests gave emotional speeches. Scot Davidson, MP, stressed that the Sutton Legion is a cornerstone of our community dedicated to ensuring that we do not forget those who gave their lives for our nation.
The Hon. Caroline Mulroney, MPP, thanked the Sutton Legion for doing a great service for all of us by creating this beautiful memorial to remember and respect all who have served and still serve. Margaret Quirk, Mayor of Georgina, shared a personal story of her visit to Vimy Ridge, where she encountered school children from Australia and England, and gave them poppies she brought with her from Sutton.
Poppies, those national symbols of remembrance, grace the bottom of the mural. Mike Burton, Chair of the Mural Committee, explained: It’s a living wall. Anyone is encouraged to attach a poppy in memory of a family member or a friend who served in peace or in war.