By jordie dwyer BASHAW STAR
This year’s Remembrance Day ceremony at Bashaw School included a history lesson.
The service, held Nov. 8, saw students from each grade level lay wreathes in memory of those lost in addition to the senior high drama students performing the song Soldiers Cry accompanied by a video tribute.
In a bit of twist from normal ceremonies, the crowd was educated on what brought about Remembrance Day from guest speaker — Bashaw Royal Canadian Legion president Bev Gallagher.
“We remember at this time of the year, every year, and sometimes it’s not a bad thing to remember our history,” she began.
“Over 100 years ago, in an event that went almost unnoticed in Canada, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated resulting in an international crisis and by August 1914, the fighting had begun. Few Canadians expected this would lead to war and fewer still anticipated the sacrifices they would be called on to make.”
Gallagher went on to explain that war would change the world. Canada became a nation born on the battlefields of the First World War. One highlight, or lowlight depending on how one looks at it, was the Battle of Vimy Ridge that has reached legendary status for this country’s extensive planning, preparation, fight, determination and the outcome.
“That has become part of Canada’s history,” she stated, adding the final 100 days of the First World War is a good reminder of the consequences of war with casualties numbering about 100 each day of that last stretch before the war ended Nov. 11, 1918.
While the Second World War saw more than one million Canadians serve with over 45,000 dying and 55,000 wounded, Gallagher put those numbers into better perspective for the audience.
“Those numbers may not mean a whole lot to you, but 45,000 is about the same as all of the people dying in Strathmore, Stony Plain and Sylvan Lake. The 55,000 represents the number of people in Leduc and Fort Saskatchewan, that’s a lot of people. War is not good, but sometimes it has to be done.”
Gallagher also acknowledged those who fought in Korea and continue to serve in various capacities — war, conflict, peacekeeping, search and rescue, humanitarian assistance or work on domestic security or helping during natural disasters including the Fort McMurray wildfire evacuation.
“Everyday, Canadians put their lives on the line to serve our country, to stand tall and every year on Nov. 11 we pause in a silent moment of remembrance for those men and women, plus honour those who fought for Canada in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War as well as the 2.3 million that have served since that last war and the many that gave their lives so that we can live in peace,” she said.
The thoughts on what remembrance means was also part of the ceremony, with students, Quinn Kisling and Jeremy Bourdages presenting some opinions from some of their classmates.
They suggested that Remembrance Day is about respecting those that gave of themselves selflessly to help improve the lives of others, to recognize the tragedies and accomplishments of the brave Canadian soldiers in fighting for this nation’s values, to remember those that continue to dedicate themselves today and to wear a poppy as a reminder of the horrific events of the past as well as the casualties and catastrophes of war on everyone.