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East York people, places, events & insights

Remembrance Day Eve mission aims to delight veterans November 11

Screen capture of promo video for Operation Raise A Flag

Screen capture of promo video for Operation Raise A Flag

Sunnybrook Hospital just outside the northeastern edges of East York is home to over 460 veterans of the Canadian armed forces, men and women who served in WWII or the Korean War and who receive ongoing care from the facilities located there.

Click for UPDATED guide to Nov. 11 ceremonies

Click for UPDATED guide to Nov. 11 ceremonies

So Remembrance Day isn’t just another holiday/observance for staff of the hospital and its Veterans’ Residence Centre at 2075 Bayview Avenue.  In fact, tonight, on what they call “Remembrance Day Eve,” staff members and throngs of volunteers will be deployed on a special mission of their own to salute the veterans that will require military-like efficiency to pull off before morning.

For “Operation Raise a Flag” as the hospital calls the undertaking, Canadian flags are planted in front of the Veterans’ Residence Centre and Sunnybrook grounds.

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“When the veterans awake on Remembrance Day, there will be a patriotic sea of thousands of red and white flags in their honour,” a hospital blurb enthuses.

Murray Westgate -TV still

Murray Westgate -TV still

The hospital is soliciting donations to the project, so donors can give to have a flag installed on their behalf.   Tonight’s exercise is part of Sunnybrook’s more comprehensive ongoing initiative to honour and thank veterans known as the “Veterans Grant A Wish Program” designed to do something special for the honourees.

Residents at the Veterans Centre on the hospital’s sprawling grounds include one whose face many older readers will recall from the 1950s and 60s: television personality Murray Westgate, who portrayed the “friendly Esso gas station attendant” on the Saturday night “Hockey Night In Canada” broadcasts for over 16 years.

Additional biographical information about Mr. Westgate and his military service, along with profiles of several other residents of the facility, can be found on its website, where people can also make a donation to help make life a little brighter for those who gave their all in our national time of need.

On Friday November 11 itself, Sunnybrook will also hold an observance ceremony for staff, residents and families from 10 am to noon, including a laying of wreaths and a speech by local MP Rob Oliphant and more.  The public is welcome but space is very limited.  After the ceremony there will be a walk out to the Bayview Cenotaph with anyone who is able, and MPP Arthur Potts will lay another wreath on behalf of the Government of Ontario.

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