It was the most memorable Remembrance Day (Veterans Day for those States side) that I ever had.
It was my first year as a teacher,
and my first large project.
For a change of pace the kids were not going to the cenataph this year as they had in the past.
Instead, since the beginning of November the students had been studying about those who gave so much.
Kindergarten students had carefully traced and cut out their small hands to make wreaths of red.
Older students had written poems and short stories.
The kids entered the gymnasium and sat in crooked rows–
the air thick with anticipation.
With a solemnity not normal for school kids they laid their wreaths and sang ‘O Canada’.
But the most memorable part was to come.
I took out a story written by one of my high school students
and I read.
It was a long story.
My throat got sore and someone brought me a glass of water.
My legs began to cramp and a chair was placed beside me.
The bell for next class rang.
But there was silence as 100 kids scootched closer…riveted.
When the final note of Last Post hung in the air,
the Thank You from those gathered in silence was palpable.
Still this wasn’t the most memorable part.
Years later I met up with one of my students in town,
and they told me how memorable that day was.
But more important, Remembrance Day had taken on more weight.
Something had clicked on that day,
an understanding of what these men and women had done.
How important freedom truly was.
And isn’t this what we want to impress on generations to come?
On this Remembrance Day those in Canada will be remembering the deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
I want to thank all those who have served in the past and those who continue to serve.
(Do you still have that story?)
Sparks…I think I returned it to the student but I’ll have to root around in my old school stuff and see. It was a remarkable piece of writing. Really hit home.
Sounds like you had a talented writer for a student!
Have you read Don’t Shoot, It’s Only Me by Bob Hope? It tends to hit me the same way – so many of his memories entertaining soldiers just before they leave for a special-ops battle with slim odds or in the hospitals afterwards, having survived but broken.
No I haven’t read that one Sparks. I’ll have to check it out. Sounds interesting.
What a wonderful tribute–both to your veterans and to the students who knew something important was going on.