The following is a correspondence that I received from my friend Cyril Best. Cyril and I worked together for many years at the TTC. I had the honour of working with him again at Durham Region Transit. He is a former member of the armed forces and deeply involve with The Royal Canadian Legion.
Below is his story of how local transit and the Legion were at one time able to give a small token of appreciation to War Veterans. Unfortunately some of todays' politicians are more concerned with being politically correct... read on.
Each year on the Sunday before November 11th it is the tradition for many Legion Branches to have a small parade to a local church for a Service of Remembrance.
This type of setting prior to the official ceremonies on November 11th is favoured by many Veterans because it gives them a chance for reflections that tends to be more personal by the fact that it is held in a church and they are sheltered from the elements.
After all most of our Veterans are in the twilight of their years and for health reasons must pay attention to the weather before deciding on whether to visit the local War Memorial on the 11th. Of course a few of them can no longer manage the march to the church even though it is a short distance and because of this transportation required.
For a number of years the Ajax / Pickering Transportation Authority provided a low floor handicap accessible bus, which was operated by a volunteer and the Veterans were able to ride to the church. As you well know Transit was taken over by the Region of Durham almost two years ago and the Ajax Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion requested that the Region consider continuing the tradition of providing a bus suitable for transporting our Veterans to the church service. They agreed and a volunteer (DRT employee) stepped forward to drive and thus reduce their costs which were minimal as the journey only covers a couple of blocks, a small distance for you and I but for some of our Veterans a marathon.
Thankfully 60 odd years ago when needed they were only to willing to trudge across Europe, Asia or the Deserts of North Africa for our freedom.
This year the Legion approached the Region of Durham in early October with the request for the use of one of their busses and were informed that things had changed and all requests must now be approved by the Executive Committee. In other words the Regional Councilors. Upon contacting the Regional Chairman Roger Anderson for him to intervene, the answer remained the same.
If we do it for one we have to do it for all. For Gods Sake these are the same people who were willing to lay down their lives for us all, they deserve special treatment as do the men and women who today serve our country.
Oh, I forgot to mention that the reply from Durham Region stated that we could charter a bus from them. The cost of a charter bus on Sundays… ninety-two dollars per hour with a three-hour minimum.
But my friends there are still good Corporate Citizens amongst us. One of those in Ajax
is known to us all as Laidlaw Transit Ltd. They will be honoured to assist our Veterans in getting to their church service. Well Done Laidlaw and shame on the Region Councilors and Chairman Anderson.
Of course, now the Region Councilors will probably be too embarrassed to attend the Veterans Dinners this year or will they, probably not as it is free.