For years, the Remembrance Day ceremony at Ponoka Secondary Campus was all about the local people lost in conflict.
This year, the focal point of the event held Nov. 7 was a point in time that holds extreme significance to those living today.
It was 100 years ago — on the 11th month and the 11th day at the 11th hour — that the guns fell silent to mark the conclusion of the First World War, which is the whole reason behind Remembrance Day in the first place.
Ron Labrie, PSC social studies teacher, was once again left in a bit of awe about how his high school students, who are part of the Broncs World Tour, pulled off another successful ceremony.
“This year, we were just a hair off the 11th hour with the two minutes of silence and, with 650 people in the gym, to not hear a thing — that’s a proud moment. It shows the student’s understanding the importance of remembrance,” he stated.
“And it’s timely, the armistice is a big deal. Thank goodness, we are in a time and have an ideology where reconciliation and forgiveness is important.”
And the fact that it can last well beyond the high school years as well as a chance to go on a tour was truly powerful, with PSC alumni Hannah Morrow (nee Barrett) proving the experience can be life changing.
“Like many of my classmates, I could have been classified as one of those millennials with no respect, but Mr. Labrie saw a compassion and willingness to learn in me. He taught me to honour remembrance in a way I would never have imagined,” began Morrow, who was part of the 2009 and 2011 tours.
“It is one thing to sit in this gymnasium and quietly reflect as you listen to In Flanders Fields. It is quite another to stand amongst those poppies between each cross, row on row. I have stood there, I have run up the rocks on the beaches of Normandy and I have walked the trenches of Hill 62. I have mourned our brothers and sisters – graveside, trench side and even roadside metres from they have taken their last breath.
She noted that getting to know their names, where they came from and how they fought makes a huge difference and that it feels like you know that soldier and can thank them in person for what they did.
“Every Remembrance Day season, I reflect back on my journals and came across this recently,” said Morrow.
“I don’t think ‘lest we forget’ will ever mean that same thing to me again. When you walk through each long row of stones with Canadian flags and maple leafs displayed, you really want to remember each one.”
For Labrie, having Morrow come back and present such a compelling message meant so much to him and to everyone involved in the tour.
“It blew me away and had me tearing up,” he said.