Mayor's Message for Remembrance Day

A Message from Mayor Sid Tobias:

It will be an honour to lay a wreath on your behalf on Friday November 11 at the cenotaph in Esquimalt with our Fire Chief, Paul Hurst.  

Remembrance Day has always been a challenging time for me. Perhaps more so after I hung up my uniform seven years ago after 24 years of service. I appreciate that the reason it has become more difficult was that I no longer feel like I had the direct support of others who understood. It has occurred to me that I have lost more brothers and sisters-in-arms in the aftermath of service due to post traumatic stress syndrome than to combat. 

As we remember this November 11, in our own way, please cast a thought on the members that survived as well as those who perished in the line of duty. All of them, forever affected by the atrocities they have witnessed, that they will never be able to un-see.  

History offers us statistics of those service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Please keep in mind that each one has a name, a story, a family whose future has been forever altered. WWI 650,000 Canadians served 66,000 were killed and 172,000 wounded. WWII 1.1 million served 42,000 were killed in action and 55,000 wounded. Korean War 26,000 served and 516 were killed in action. Peace keeping 125,000 served and 130 paid the ultimate sacrifice. In Afghanistan, 40,000 were deployed and 158 were killed in action. In context, more Canadians were killed and wounded than the entire population of Greater Victoria and more people served than the entire population of Vancouver Island. If you have ever been to Newfoundland and Labrador and witnessed abandoned towns due to the loss of all of those who perished in war, there is a profound sense of magnitude of sacrifice.  

Since I left active duty, I have witnessed a resurgence of children's programs in schools and with cubs and scouts to provide care taking of tombstones, marking them with flowers and attending Remembrance Day Service. There has been a remarkable resurgence in the act of remembrance and like so many community events it has been challenged through the pandemic. Yet as we emerge, I find great solace in that it has come to be more popular than it ever was. 

My family’s near continuous service to Canada goes back to 1939. My father joined the Royal Canadian Navy in 1939 at the age of 16. He rubbed out the date on his birth certificate with bleach and forged a new date to qualify. He was not alone; many Canadians did the same. He spent the war doing many runs across the North Atlantic on convoy escort to ensure Britain was supplied. He volunteered for mine sweeping duties in Bangor Class wooden minesweeper and swept the English Channel for the D-Day invasion. He got close enough to tow obstructions off Juno Beach so our infantry could get ashore operating below the minimum trajectory of German Artillery. He participated in the liberation of Cherbourg, the Channel Islands and Bordeaux. He, like many who served, never talked about the war. He would only discuss it after I joined the military in 1991.  

Please spare a moment to consider those who still serve with duty, honour, and valor as we prepare to welcome the return of HMCS (His Majesty s Canadian Ships) Vancouver and HMCS Winnipeg on the 5th of December. They departed on 14 June... 6 months absent from their family. They continue to serve. They have invested in our security and the security of our allies much more than the news will convey.  

This Friday the 11 November at 1100, I invite you to come together with your neighbors and families and remember as a community.  

For those of you who may find that difficult, I understand. If you are a veteran or a family or friend of a veteran and are finding it difficult, please reach out to your neighbours or to me. Your contribution and sacrifices are forever honoured. 

Lest we forget.  

Sid Tobias MSM, CD, MA