Each year, as Remembrance Day approaches, we think about new ways to provide a news feature or two about the experiences of our Veterans or how war affected our community.
It’s a way to highlight the sacrifices made in the past so we can enjoy the freedoms we do today. But the purpose is also to do something extra to remind our readers of our history.
In other areas of the community people are also preparing their own special activities to mark Remembrance Day and remember our past.
We’re fortunate each year to join school students, teachers and parents as each school conducts its own Remembrance Service.
On Tuesday we attended the service at H. J. Cody High School and were impressed once again at the calibre of the presentation as well as the respectfulness of the 600 or so students who sat in silence during the hour long service.
The service included a speech from student Connor Barker, one of a group of H. J. Cody students who travelled to France and visited Juno Beach. Another group of the students — Kiana McCluskey, Joelle Shaw, Sebastian Kneitl and Shawn Calen — prepared a powerpoint presentation on their trip to the haunting beach which is little changed from the fateful day in 1944 when Canadian forces landed during D-Day. Their experiences and insight certainly added to the ceremony.
In other schools throughout our area, there are similar services of remembrance. Many include members of the Royal Canadian Legion, RCMP officers and others who contribute to this special time of the year.
But it’s not just at this time of year that we pause to remember Canada’s past war and peacekeeping involvements.
Throughout the year we’ve featured the activities in the Sylvan Lake News of our Royal Canadian Legion branch, veterans and those involved in keeping memories alive.
Allan Cameron, a Sylvan Lake resident, is executive director and producer of Veterans Voices of Canada. “Keeping History Alive” is the slogan of the organization which hosted its first annual Veterans’ Appreciation Day at the community centre in May.
A Veterans’ Corner provided an opportunity for people to talk to veterans and hear their stories. A display of vintage military vehicles added to the day.
Cameron has also just released a video docu-story about the North Nova Scotia Highlanders and their experience in Normandy titled “The Fighting North Novies: Into the Fire!” It’s part of his organization’s mandate to interview veterans on camera so videos of their experiences and reminiscences are preserved for history and educational purposes.
Interested in learning more check www.vetvoicecan.org.
The Legion, in the past year, has hosted Decoration Day in June where Canadian flags were placed on the graves of veterans, the March of Canadians on Canada Day, a Veteran’s Luncheon (today) and the Vimy Ridge Day service and luncheon — all to recognize and remember.
Another big project of the Legion each fall is the annual Literary and Poster Contest which is open to students from Grades 1 through Grade 12. Posters, essays and poetry are judged at the branch level (and cash awards presented), then at the zone, provincial and national levels. This is another way the organization is perpetuating memories of our history.
During the past year, we’ve also provided stories and photos about people in our community who have been involved in war or who have travelled to learn more about Canada’s military past.
Remembering our past is not just reserved for a single day. There are opportunities year round.
As we approach Sylvan Lake’s Centennial year, we’ll all be looking back, remembering the past and gazing to the future. As this year proceeds we’ll learn more about the significance of remembering.
Steve Dills is President of the Sylvan Lake Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.