As Canada prepares to mark Remembrance Day and the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, the occasion has a heartfelt resonance for Metrolinx staff. A special ceremony is held each year at an Oshawa GO bus facility – which was once home to a top secret military complex – just as a wider welcome is extended to military members and their families, aboard our vehicles.
As a former reservist with the Canadian military, Metrolinx Transit Safety Officer Peter Mohyla knows about service – both for his country as well as to the transit agency’s customers.
So as Remembrance Day approaches, he looks out for uniformed military members riding GO Transit and UP Express, along with their families.
“We take the sacrifice of these men and women to heart,” said Mohyla. “Many of them never returned home.”
“So welcoming them onboard our buses and trains, and showing our respect in any way we can, is a small thank you to them.”
Every year, this time on Nov. 8, Metrolinx’s Transit Safety officials hold a joint Remembrance Day ceremony in Oshawa at the East GO Transit Bus facility. The initiative started years ago with Mohyla and other GO employees observing a moment of silence. It’s now grown to become a recognized and elaborate tribute to fallen uniformed members, as well as the overall sacrifice of those who stand up to protect Canadians.
The East Bus facility has a rich connection to Canada’s military history. The grounds were part of historic and top secret ‘Camp X’, a spy training school which helped to prepare top-tier operatives for dangerous missions during the Second World War.
“It’s also significant that we hold the ceremony on Camp X, and its role during the war,” said Mohyla, adding that Metrolinx has many current employees that are active in the reserves.
The ceremony is private, due to space limitations. This year Durham police and fire officials will be participating along with members from Oshawa catholic school, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and a colour guard from the Commissionaires.
Apart from the ceremony, GO Transit and UP Express are showing their gratitude by allowing free passage for those who have served in the military, along with their companions, on Remembrance Day.
On that day, current members of the military are asked to identify themselves by wearing their medals, beret, blazer, uniform, or other similar belonging while travelling or carry their service papers or identification card. Immediate family members of deceased veterans may also ride for free if carrying something to identify their relation to the late veteran, such as service papers or an identification card.
As well, Metrolinx is now working with an organization that knows about heroism and duty. The transit agency is partnering with Commissionaires, a not for profit Canadian security company dedicated to providing meaningful employment for vets.
The history of Commissionaires goes back to 1925, and now employs almost 21,000 employees in 1,200 communities across Canada. To find out more about the organization, just click here.
Throughout the year, those who wear a uniform in the service of others deserve respect and a nod of gratitude. But as Remembrance Day approaches, the weight of what they have contributed deserves some special attention.
Story by Doug Daly, Metrolinx manager, Asset Commercialization.