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Freedom isn’t free. The abilities and freedoms you enjoy in your everyday life are the result of hard work and many sacrifices of those who came before you. The ability to speak up on issues that bother you, take part in elections, read the books you choose, and countless other things are what most of us take for granted each day. We owe a great debt to the brave individuals who gave their lives and to those who continue, even today, to represent our country around the world while keeping us safe.
On November 11, communities across our great nation came together to honour the veterans from all the wars and current conflicts to thank them for gifting our country with their bravery and sacrifice. The Central School gymnasium was absolutely packed to the point that some could only hear from the lobby rather than see from a seat.
Musical guests included the Whitecourt Community Choir, Reflection, piano by Diane Ferguson and trumpeter, Joelle Callaghan. Pastor Puddicombe said a few words before MC Cmrd. Tom Pickard read, “Sometimes I Think…” by Samantha Jesky, a grade eight student from Percy Baxter School. Samantha won the Legion Poster/Literacy Contest with her piece. Here is a snippet.
“Sometimes I think. Sometimes I think about the sand caught in the creases of a soldier’s wedding band and then I think that maybe some of them are fighting because they have nothing left to lose. What about the children? There are children living in war zones, drinking from polluted rivers, and kneeling in fragments of detonated bombs that cut into their knees.”
Following readings and musical performances, representatives from families, organizations, and clubs made their way up the aisle of the packed hall to pay their respects and lay a wreath. The somber, yet beautiful wreaths were a colourful reminder to never forget. Always remember beyond the 11th of November and throughout the remainder of the year. If you still have your poppies, perhaps you can proudly display them amongst your upcoming Christmas decorations to continue honouring our veterans.
“This is the fourth or fifth year I’ve been coming to the Whitecourt celebrations and every year it’s a little bigger crowd and it’s fantastic to see,” spoke attendee, Cherie Vandermeer. “I don’t have anybody who has fought in the war; I just come because the more people who come out, then the more it’s remembered. At some point that’s all that’s going to be left, is the memories, and people need to remember them. The original veterans are going to be gone and I don’t want their fight to be for nothing.”
MC Tom Pickard said that seeing the packed hall was fantastic. “We had people there who were in their mom and dad’s arms right to people who were 80s and 90s. I think it’s a tremendous showing from the entire community for our veterans. Remembrance Day remembers everyone who served in all the wars, and in peacekeeping missions, and Afghanistan, and our current deployments around the world right now.”
We will remember them.