Some things you may not know about me:
-I cry most times when Canada’s national anthem is played
-I watch the television broadcast version of the Remembrance Ceremonies from Ottawa every year and have done since I was little. I also watch the ones broadcast in British Columbia. In addition, I attend the hour long school Remembrance Day ceremonies at Brighouse Elementary
-When Remembrance Day was an actual holiday in Ontario, my mother would line us all up in front of the robin’s egg blue clock in the kitchen, its electric cord hanging down, to stand in silence for a minute each November 11th, marking the time as it ticked away.
-As a small child, Remembrance Day scared me because there was so much talk of those who had died, it was a bit ‘scary’, especially in its silence.
Every year, I work with students to compose poems and essays for the Royal Canadian Legion’s writing contests for youth. Last year, two of them, Aaron Lu and Andrew Li went all the way to the provincial level for judging.
Most of my students were not born here, yet in living here they are part of our collective history, which includes remembrance. Most of them, when asked to compose on that theme, come up with a blank. “I can’t write poetry. I have no connection to that part of our past…” But I push.
I share my experience of visiting Vimy Ridge and the beaches of Normandy. I show photos of places, people and memorials. I ask, “What does remembrance mean to you? How do you remember? What do you remember? How do you mark November 11th?”
Using images, such as the one below of Memorial Hall at Canada’s National War Museum, or the statue called “Wait for Me Daddy” in New Westminster, BC, they ponder, question and write. They are always surprised by where their imagination takes them and how their words evoke emotion from others.
The Royal Canadian Legion, in hosting this contest every year, and by featuring the winners laying a wreath in Ottawa, are also evoking remembrance. They seemed to be looking for students to make their own connection, not only to wars of the past, but to peace.
This is the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, an agreement meant to solidify peace and this theme has been poignantly incorporated into each and every Remembrance Day ceremony, from the artwork at Brighouse Elementary, to the words of Major-General Guy Chapdelaine (Chaplain General of the Canadian Armed Forces) at today’s ceremony in Ottawa, ““Peace is more than tolerating one another, peace is recognizing ourselves in others and realizing that we are all on the path of life together. Lay down our own weapons of exclusion, intolerance, hatred and strife. Make us instruments of your peace that we may seek reconciliation in our world.”
Images below are of artwork created by Brighouse Elementary students for their Remembrance ceremonies.
I want to feature a poem by grade 9 student Nancy Lin this year, as she puts herself in a different time and place to share her own thoughts on war and peace. She is such a great talent and it is a privilege to be one of her mentors. On this day of remembrance, peace to all…
Memorial Hall – November 11th
By: Nancy Lin
I am in Memorial Hall, a place of quiet remembrance,
I wonder when the light will hit the headstone.
I hear the indistinct whispers of ones who have also come to witness this rare event,
I see the words that mark the lone artifact.
I want to place a poppy in the unknown soldier’s honour,
I am moved by the powerful silence.
I pretend I have met you,
I feel your presence as the light hits the stone.
I am touched by your contribution to our nation,
I worry that you think your courage went unrecognized.
I cry for those who knew you,
I am grateful for your sacrifice.
I understand the true meaning of remembrance standing here today,
I say a silent prayer for you and for those whose lives were also cut short.
I try to envision your last moments,
I hope that you’ve found peace,
I hope you know you are in our hearts,
I hope you know that light shines on you today.