Remembrance Day: John McCrae students create memorial

John McCrae Secondary School students and staff members are renowned for their commitment to honouring veterans. That’s why, earlier this month, school administrators received a request from Genevieve Cimon, the National Art Centre (NAC)’s director of music education and community engagement. She asked if there would be interest in creating a memorial to accompany the NAC orchestra on its trip to Great Britain.  The orchestra is in the midst of doing workshops and performances overseas as part of Great Britain’s 100th anniversary memorial of WW1.  

It was determined that a wreath would be designed under the direction of art teacher Micheal Goodson. Mr. Goodson and students Zarina Chekh, Talan Hasan, Kiera Hullett, and Kayla Dougan worked together to craft the tribute. Its theme reflects the transition from the old to the new as the experience of WW1 transformed Canada from a colony to a nation.

The wreath will be presented, on behalf of John McCrae Secondary School students, to officials in London and it will be placed in Hyde Park at the Canadian Memorial.

The veteran’s names and locations on the wreath come from memorial trips that 150 John McCrae Secondary students have participated in over the past eight years. These trips, organized by history teacher Brent Howard, have provided students with the opportunity to research these veterans and be present at their WWI and WWII grave sites in Europe. 

The poem Flanders Field is in the middle of the wreath. Not only does it honour the school’s namesake, John McCrae, who wrote the famous words, it also honours the vow to remember those who’ve fought and those who’ve died fighting for our freedom.

During its royal performance in London, the NAC orchestra will be performing Flanders Fields.

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Some 100,000 Canadian soldiers died in the First and Second World Wars; many educators believe it’s important for young people to understand that generations of veterans have served our country and have made sacrifices to ensure we live in a free and peaceful land.

From A. Y Jackson Secondary School to Westwind Public School, students and staff members in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board will come together Tuesday, November 11 – Remembrance Day – to honour Canada’s past and present members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Ceremonies will include assemblies, choir and glee club presentations, readings of poems and dramatic productions. Students have spent weeks researching the importance of celebrating the day that marks the date and time when armies stopped fighting in World War I: November 11th at 11 a.m. in 1918 (the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month).

In Flanders Fields

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow

          Between the crosses, row on row,

       That mark our place; and in the sky

       The larks, still bravely singing, fly

    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago

    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

       Loved and were loved, and now we lie

             In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:

    To you from failing hands we throw

       The torch; be yours to hold it high.

       If ye break faith with us who die

    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

             In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, 1872-1918
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