Wadena schools pay their respects
The Wadena Elementary School commemorated Remembrance Day on November 10, with the entire school participating. The Grade 5s led the singing for O Canada, This Little Light of Mine, and God Save the Queen, and also sang In Flanders Fields. Wadena Legion members Ruth MacDonald, Thelma Holmstrom and Anna Prince were in attendance and spoke with some of the students afterward.
The Grade 6 class made up a slideshow featuring posters made by students who got up and spoke about their own posters. Two students also presented the history of the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument and the participation of Canada’s First Nations in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean war.
Each class then laid their wreath, honouring fallen veterans. The students’ wreaths are featured every year, making up part of the decoration for the public service held in the Wadena hall the following day.
Legion members, left to right Ruth MacDonald, Thelma Holmstrom and Anna Prince visit Wadena Elementary School for Remembrance Day Service.
By Charlene Wirtz
By Andy Labdon
As Wadena Composite School students entered the dimly lit hall in silence, a visual presentation quietly flickered black and white images on the screen in the background of the trench warfare on the western front in World War One. War names, such as Verdun, Marne and Somme Valley, brought the sacrifice and heroism to the fore.
Opening remarks for the ceremony came from Shayna Campbell, Student Representative Council (SRC) president, followed by the entrance of the colour party. The national anthem was then led by student Braelynn Ekstrom.
Students listened and watched as the presentation unfolded on the large screen through stark photographs taken of the First World War, the Second World War and subsequent wars, interspersed with poems read by students.
Guest speaker Senator Pamela Wallin spoke of the “amazing courage” that has been shown by Canadian soldiers and it demonstrated, for the first time in World War I, how Canada was forced to mature as a country in its own right.
“… a nation’s history is built on its past and we have a proud and strong military that is part of our heritage,” said Senator Wallin.
During the World War One, said Sennaor Wallin, Canada was considered part of the British Empire and one-tenth of the population joined the war effort. Out of the 600,000 Canadians who left the shores of Canada to fight alongside its allies, 66,000 never came home; Vimy Ridge claimed 3,598 lives with 7004 wounded, and Passchendaele took 15,654 lives.
With the heroic sacrifice Canadians made during these two battles in particular, Canada became recognized as a player on the world stage. In 1939, over a million Canadians volunteered to serve in World War Two, in which 44,000 died on the battlefield.
“We live in the home of the free, because our military personnel fought so their children and children’s children could go to school not war,” said Senator Wallin.
Senator Wallin spoke honestly of experiences during her four visits to Canadian troops in Afghanistan. While watching troops on the ground in action from helicopters she said, “They are fierce warriors and effective humanitarians.”
Humanitarians, she explained, who helped keep building schools for the girls, who the Taliban refused to educate, and no matter how many times the Taliban destroyed or damaged schools, the Canadian troops rebuilt them. In a conversation with Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S. Commander of American Forces in Afghanistan, Senator Wallin said he was simply “blown away” by what he saw when watching the Canadian military at work.
Senator Wallin’s message was clear: “The Canadian Forces will always fight when necessary to preserve our rights and freedoms, but we are considered a nation of peace and kindness.
Below, Avery McMartin and Koby Faubert read a poem called the Eyes.
The senator also championed those who have served and returned to Canada.
“We must not just think of the dead,” she said, “We must think of the living who have returned with injuries they have to live with the rest of their lives. All military personal should have the best of everything to enable them to do the job we have asked them to do, as well as support them when they come home.”
To date at least 70 Canadian soldiers have taken their own lives due to the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), she said.
“A true show of respect is not grief, but a show of gratitude,” concluded Senator Wallin.
As part of the service, students were each given a bookmark depicting the statue of Mother Canada, also known as Canada Bereft, superimposed on an image of The Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
“I want the students to start thinking about the battle of Vimy Ridge now,” WCS Principal Darin Faubert told the News. “Next year on April 9, 2017, is the 100-year anniversary and starting January 2017, the grade 11s will be undertaking a project connected with Vimy Ridge.”
The project will see students compiling comprehensive biographies of 20 Canadian soldiers who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. A turning point in the war according to some historians, Vimy Ridge was considered a pivotal moment in the development of Canadian identity.
The service concluded with heart rendering video of Canadian soldiers grieving over lost comrades. The clip demonstrated just how much our Canadian military personnel give for Canadian freedoms, and hit home the fact that we should be eternally filled with gratitude for their sacrifice.