Village of New Sarepta, AB – On Friday November 9, New Sarepta school administrators and nearby Leduc Legion representatives celebrated Remembrance Day with this municipality’s entire school population. Elementary students were bused into the new Sarepta Junior/High school, and all gathered in the school gymnasium. Filling the bleachers, and sitting on the gymnasium floor with their teachers and school administrators standing nearby, students paid rapt attention to the proceedings that started promptly at 10:30.
School Principal Mr Brian Scott welcomed the guests and representatives of the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL), most of them being from Leduc’s Branch 108 and who seated at the front of the audience in the bleachers. The president of the Leduc Legion, Mr. Iain Weikl asked students and guests to rise, and the Sergeant-at-Arms announced the arrival of the March of the Colours. O Canada was performed with gusto by the New Sarepta Community & High School Band. This is always more touching when performed by young musicians, and they did a fine job of it!
The Colours (meaning official flags) where then deposited in their holders: then the Color Party, several veterans dressed in impressive uniforms, retired from the gymnasium. A touching Remembrance Day slideshow enhanced by John Lennon’s song “Imagine” reminded us of the wars that our Canadian military participated in, and the lives that were sacrificed to the cause of freedom and national pride.
The MC of this New Sarepta Remembrance Day ceremony was Daniel Laskavenko, an articulate sixteen year-old Grade 11 New Sarepta student, and a 4th year Army cadet Sergeant: he proudly wore an impressive dark green uniform adorned with several medals and a wide, white belt. After the ceremony, Daniel shared that he is the grandson of a General in the Soviet Army, and that he found out only recently that his grandmother was a war nurse. Many war stories were kept private, sometimes never to be revealed even to family members.
After the slideshow, the Band performed another piece, “Soldiers of Fortune”. Two elementary students, Monica Knull and Kassie Wrubleski, came to the front and read John McRae’s poem, “Flander’s Fields”. It doesn’t matter how often you have heard it, even if you know it by heart, but when a child reads it, this immortal poem really touches your heart!
During the ceremony, several musical pieces were performed that added to the somber and proud nature of the preceedings: “Last Post” (that preceded a moment of silence), “Reveille”, and “God Save the Queen”. A violin solo was enjoyed by all, as Mark Adam performed the classic “Amazing Grace” with precise skill.
Clad in a ‘camo’ uniform with a dark green beret smartly perched on his short hair, Corporal James Wynne came to the podium, and candidly shared what the military means to him, and how he has (and had) many relatives and friends in the Canadian Forces… This slim and proud young soldier, a member of the South Alberta Light Horse, seemed young for his rank: now 23, he actually signed up when he was 17, his parents having to sign a consent form. Corporal Wynne shared that he has already completed a tour of seven months in Afghanistan, and reminded us that American soldiers sign up for tours of… fifteen months! There was another power point “How will I remember”, full of powerful images, followed by the laying of the wreaths by two elementary students, Kadin Murch and Eleanor Bogelund, escorted by Carley Wynnyk, the lovely and confident president of the Graduating Class.
“Our future is their monument!” was one of the many powerful statements shared at the podium, along with “We must remember… if we don’t, the sacrifice of 100,000 Canadians would be forgotten!” Service organisations back home were also mentioned, as critical and valuable elements of support during wartimes…
New Sarepta High School teachers Kirsten Newman and Catherine Farley worked diligently to create a unique Remembrance Day Ceremony: with pump and circumstance, New Sarepta and its entire school population remembered and honored the sacrifices and dedication of our Canadian Military, and we are glad they did!