Business honours fallen with 11,800 flags of honour

As a gesture of gratitude to the Canadian heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, Manulife held its third annual ceremony to honour the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on Thursday, Nov. 2.

A key part of this ceremony is the planting of 11,800 Canadian flags to honour the 118,000 members of the CAF who have given their lives in service of their country since the South African War of the early 20th century.

The flags are planted on the front lawn of Manulife’s global headquarters in Toronto.

“We have the good fortune of living in probably one of the best countries in the world with a free government and democratic society. Those rights have been preserved through the services of CAF. We also have the good fortune of being in a position to lend our aide in peacekeeping missions as well as war. But unfortunately, brave young men and women have had to make the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf. I think its critically important that they have made that sacrifice to preserve our way of life,” said Warren Thomson, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Manulife and Chairman of Manulife Asset Management.

Thomson and his wife were inspired after visiting Boston, MA and witnessing a similar event put on by John Hancock Financial, a subsidiary of Manulife. The Thomsons took the idea to Manulife, and the ceremony has been an annual occurrence for the company ever-since.

“We do have the good fortune of having a beautiful front lawn on our building. There’s plenty of space, and in the fall it’s really sort of a nice vibrant green with the Canadian flags standing out. It makes quite a dramatic setting,” commented Thomson.

The display, says Thomson, gives passers-by and employees alike a space to pause and reflect on the significance of Remembrance Day.

Thursday’s ceremony was attended by The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; BGen. Mark Campbell, Commander, 4th Canadian Division; and Roy Gori, president, and CEO of Manulife. A choir of elementary school children from Rose Avenue Public School performed ‘O Canada.’

The flag garden will remain on display until sundown on Nov. 11.

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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