Tomorrow, November 11th, is Remembrance Day – the day Canadians remember the brave men and women who served, and continue to serve, our country during times of war and conflict and in peacetime. We specifically remember the veterans of the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, and all conflicts in which members of the Canadian Forces have participated in the fight for freedom enjoyed by all Canadians.
We ourselves, for the most part, have not needed to sacrifice anything for our freedom. It was given to us by the generations who came before us and sacrificed so much. It is our perennial duty, therefore, as a school and a society to recall the service and the sacrifice of the more than 1.5 million Canadian soldiers, sailors, aircrew, and merchant seaman who fought and died for the life we enjoy.
This morning, the students and staff of Matthews Hall did just that in our annual Remembrance Day ceremony. With contributions from every class of students, the current generation of Matthews Hall continued the strong tradition of remembrance in a culture that, increasingly, seems to be forgetting the lessons of history. Thank you to Student Prime Minister, Brenden Sener (Grade 8), for leading this important assembly.
Our students understand that soldiers died, so that they could have the freedom to learn here, get an education, live in freedom, and plan with hope for their futures. They, like all of us, are forever in their debt.
Our school community remembers the sacrifices of many – from the doctors and nurses who tended to the wounded on the battlefield to the parents who watched their children fight things from which they could not protect them; they recall the teenaged boys who were shipped off to fight before their lives started to those children left behind in wartime to care for their families. Matthews Hall remembers them all.
Most Canadians experience a certain poignancy when gathering for a few moments of silence at workplaces, schools, and at local cenotaphs on November 11th, especially those for whom military service has been (or continues to be) a reality. It is an important public declaration of our gratitude for the sacrifices of thousands of Canadians who fought and died for the rights we currently enjoy. It is also a dimension of our common life that can be easily overlooked amid the issues and distractions of our time. But maybe not so much this year?
School children and all of us can readily grasp the concept of being thankful for the service and sacrifice of long departed soldiers who helped spare our country the worst ravages of terror and totalitarianism. This is a very good thing. We are thankful of course. But are we and our children truly standing on guard, as our national anthem boasts?
Because those generations that came before us lost so much – and because they gave everything – we owe it to them to stand on guard with courage and vigilance. We thank them and promise them that we will not forget.
And we join in the powerful message that grew out of the horrors of the Second World War when we boldly acclaim in our schools, homes, and communities – Never Again.
Ric Anderson, Head of School