Remembrance Day made a deeper impression on some senior elementary students in Vanderhoof this year, as they took a closer look behind the ceremonial scenes.
On Nov. 10, Anne Geddes’ class of Grade 4 to 6 students hosted this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony for W. L McLeod Elementary.
“As a class, we offered to be responsible for it this year,” Geddes said. “Many of the students had a lot of input in the plans for the Remembrance Day assembly and we planned it as a whole group: the students and the three adults who are all part of our classroom.”
This year’s rendition of the annual commemoration involved students recounting the story of war veteran Dick Patrick from Saik’uz First Nation, the story of the bugle call “Last Post”, and a class performance of the song “Highway of Heroes” by Nova Scotia band The Trews.
Highway of Heroes, designated in 2007, refers to a 170-kilometre portion of Highway 401 in Toronto that is used as the route for funeral convoys carrying fallen Canadian Forces men and women from Canadian Forces Base Trenton to the coroner’s office.
“Students were given a choice of a few songs and decided to choose the one we shared,” Geddes said. “They had a great deal of input in helping to decide that we would focus on the past and the present during our assembly.”
Reflecting about the experience afterwards, one student told Geddes he was happy that the class got the chance to lead the assembly.
“He said Remembrance Day didn’t mean much to him before this year and now he can see why it is one of the most important days of the year,” she said.
Grade 5 student Daniel Nash and support staff member Dan Nickel presented the poem “In Flanders Fields” and the story of its author John McCrae.
“It’s about the people that lost their lives being in war, and fighting for our nation,” Nash said.
Nickel, retired from the Canadian Forces in 2001, was a veteran mechanic who maintained and repaired army vehicles and tanks.
He has been involved in the school’s annual commemoration in the past five years by showcasing his uniforms and recounting his experiences in the military.
“As time goes by and as World War I veterans leaves us — even the World War II ones left are fewer and fewer, we need to keep the memory going about what everybody has done before,” Nickel said.