A project that began to take shape several years ago is now in its second full year and beginning to be embraced by many students and others in Ponoka.
The World Remembers (TWR) project began organizing back in 2007 and was designed as a unique way to remember all soldiers that perished in World War I, regardless of the country they served on the 100th anniversary of what was then called the Great War.
In total, the soldiers from 12 countries are included in the listings. However, some countries are not, as those governments refused to release their information or records to the project.
Two displays have been set up, one at Ponoka Secondary Campus and the other at the Legion that show the names of soldiers and the country they were from. Last year, those the died in 1914 were shown and this year has the names that perished in 2015. That translates into more than 516,000 names that will be displayed over a 38 day period that began on Oct. 5.
Ron Labrie, social studies teacher at Ponoka Secondary Campus – one of just three Alberta schools taking part in the project, explained the project had taken on great significance in the community.
“It’s been a really big deal since we started last year. It’s become a big part of the school culture here,” Labrie said.
That should come as little surprise to many, as Ponoka Campus has made a big effort over many years to ensure students learn all about remembering the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers in both world wars and other conflicts, including by arranging numerous school trips to Europe to visit sights of important battles along with burial grounds and communities impacted by Canadian troops.
“With all of the resources we could look to on World War I now gone – the last Canadian soldier who fought died back in 2010 – this project is a significant part of the push to re-educate students and the public about the historic nature of what occurred,” stated Labrie.
“And from what I have seen at the school, there are a number of students going away with a better sense of what took place and the sacrifices made as I have noticed a lot of students taking a moment or more to sit and just watch the names scroll by on the screen. This project is a great testament to ensuring that recognition and remembrance continues as well as a sign of reconciliation among those countries involved simply by allowing each name to be commemorated regardless of which side they were on.”
While the aim of the project is to remember all soldiers equally, Labrie did state he hopes the students and public focus on the 5,472 Canadian names that will be displayed as those that died during 1915.
While students can take in the display at the school, the public has two opportunities to take part in the project. First, they can head to the Ponoka Royal Canadian Legion when they are open to catch the display of names on the screen that has been set up there, or they can head to the website at www.theworldremembers.org to take a look at the list of names and learn more about the project.