Every single student at St. Augustine School had a focus on Remembrance Day.
The school held its Remembrance Day ceremony Nov. 8 with a strong focus on respect and honour for the soldiers who died in the name of their country.
The student-led high school program featured stories from the St. Augustine Travel Club, where the students who travelled to Europe and toured old war battle grounds and Canadian grave sites were able to speak about their experience and what it meant to them.
The D-Day assault on Juno Beach stood out the most for Matthew Dela Cruz.
He spoke about his tour of the Juno Beach Centre and of the Canadian 3rd Infantry Division that took part in that fateful day.
“About 340 dead and 574 wounded Canadian soldiers at the end of the invasion, but by the end of the day the Allied forces succeeded in wresting control of the area from defending German troops,” he said.
“My classmates and I had the opportunity to walk the beach that day,” added Dela Cruz. “While I walked, I had the realization of how lucky I am to live in a free country.”
For Amanda Huchkowski, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France is more than a memorial for the thousands involved in the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
It is about the entire First World War.
“It stands as a tribute to all who served their country in battle and risked or gave their lives in that four year struggle,” she said.
The tour of the Vimy Memorial was cold and damp, but that didn’t stop the students’ hearts from being warmed. “…there is a very peaceful and serene atmosphere surrounding Vimy.”
The Canadian war cemeteries
The tour marked several Canadian grave sites, something that left a lasting impression on Madison Fleck.
There were literally thousands upon thousands of names they saw, but Fleck said the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery had a name close to home; it hosts the name of Ernest Myers, a soldier from Ponoka.
“It was strange to see someone so close to home when we were so far away, and it was strangely comforting,” said Fleck.
“He, just like so many others, gave up everything to protect our futures,” she added.
There are over 54,000 names etched onto the walls of Menin Gate Memorial, explained Alexander Brackenbury.
Located in Ypres, Belgium, Brackenbury the show of respect for First World War soldiers is heartwarming.
“What makes this memorial stand out in my memories is that the Last Post has been held here daily, uninterrupted since 1927,” she explained.
“Despite their origin, their cultures or their upbringing , all of our brave servicemen and women fight for the same goal; a brighter and safer future for all of us.”
The ceremony included a slide show and music honouring the past soldiers.