By Jasmine Franklin
It was one of those moments where you step outside yourself, pause, and see the bigger picture, as many did in a gymnasium filled with poppies and tears.
With the dedication of teachers and students of Ponoka Composite High School it was a Remembrance Day ceremony to remember on Nov. 5.
Students talked about their humbling experiences on the 2009 Canadian Battlefield Broncs World Tour. The team of almost 20 and social studies teacher Ron Labrie, travelled to locations in France, Italy and Belgium to visit the graves of fallen Canadian soldiers.
“I came to a deeper understanding of what Remembrance Day means to me,” said student Lane Hudson, 17. “It is more than just a day, more than a moment of silence — it has a deeper meaning and until you go to the battlefields and witness the death and destruction that occurred to our fellow Canadians, you will never truly understand.”
A video presentation put together by students Mackie Jacobson and Justin Ronnie silenced the crowd of students, teachers, parents, cadets and veteran dignitaries. Pictures of laughing soldiers and tearful veterans struck the hearts of many as tears were silently shed.
“After seeing the effects of the war first-hand, after running through trenches full of mud, after looking upon 7,000 graves which had no names, I came back to Canada with not only a whole new respect for our soldiers and veterans but also more patriotism than before,” Hudson said. “I see now, how those men and women suffered and truly paid the ultimate price for our lifestyles and freedom today.”
Hugh Greene, a veteran and past Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command president, was presented with a Vimy Pilgrimage Medal on behalf of the 2009 World Tour students. The medal is given to all those who visit the Vimy Ridge memorial site, and when Greene visited he was not presented with a medal.
Also at the ceremony was the presentation to induct fallen soldier Oliver Mardon Tulk into the school’s Hall of Valour, a tribute to the fallen soldiers the students have studied and preformed grave rubbings for. There are extensive biographies done and when the person is inducted into the hall, they are remembered with a bronze plaque. A plaque in Tulk’s name will be the latest to get mounted on the wall of the high school.
Tulk was born April 8, 1891 in Atkinson, Holt County, Neb. He moved to the Ponoka area for employment where he became a farm laborer before joining the Royal Canadian Regiment in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces as a private and a member of the machine gun crew. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star on his tour of duty in France and arrived in England in September 1915. Tulk spent 42 days in the hospital with the German measles and was killed in action on April 21, 1917.
He is the fourth inductee to the Hall of Valour since the Broncs World Tour program began in 2005.
The students will head on a 10-day tour from March 25 to April 3. They will go to Amsterdam to visit the home in which Anne Frank, a Jewish girl, spent the last years of her life hiding from the Germans, Brussels, Passchendale, Vimy Ridge, the Palace of Versailles in Paris, London, and Menin Gate in Ypres.
“We have had half a dozen graduated students continue into the armed forces,” Labrie said. “This ceremony means a lot to everyone.”
Student Kai Thompson welled up with tears when it was his time to speak.
“It’s not just a number or a statistic in your textbook anymore,” Thompson said. “It’s rows upon rows of men and women who died for us. Lest we forget.”