Stettler RCMP Sgt. Phil Penny lays a wreath during the Remembrance Day ceremony at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus on Tuesday

Stettler RCMP Sgt. Phil Penny lays a wreath during the Remembrance Day ceremony at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus on Tuesday

Canadian sacrifices remembered by Stettler students

The gymnasium at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus was full to capacity as students and community members gathered on Tuesday...

The gymnasium at Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus was full to capacity as students and community members gathered on Tuesday, Nov. 8 to reflect on the sacrifices of Canada’s serving members of military and veterans.

The Remembrance Day ceremony was held early like previous years as Nov. 11 is a provincial holiday, which makes it possible for people to attend services and commemorate our veterans.

“It is important for our school to celebrate Remembrance Day because our students need to understand and appreciate the sacrifices that our service men and women have made in the wars that been fought in order for us to be living such a great country as Canada,” Principal Norbert Baharally said. “Students also need to know that our individual freedom and the privilege of living in a democratic nation sometimes comes at the cost of having to go to war. By having these Remembrance Day ceremonies in our schools, our students are exposed to the true meaning of this celebration and will at least have the chance to attend one formal ceremony each year.”

The master of ceremonies was Hannah McKay, who led the event through several speeches by august guests such as the Legion’s Rosalind LaRose and Erskine Evangelical Church Pastor Rev. Ross Helgeton.

Grade 12-student Roam Thorsteinsson shared with the gathered assembly his thoughts on Remembrance Day.

“Today we gather out of respect,” he said. “Not only out of respect for our country, but out of respect for the people who have given us the freedoms we are granted here. And though we may take them for granted, these freedoms did not come without great sacrifice.”

He spoke about the ability of Canadians to engage in free speech, not just about issues in Canada but around the globe. Canadians have access to education and have “done nothing to earn these privileges,” he noted.

“These freedoms were given to us as a gift, with no strings attached, and we are not asked for anything in return,” he said.

While many people see the veterans of the 20th century conflicts as elders, when they took up arms on our country’s behalf they were much younger, Thorsteinsson noted.

“These people were not much older than some of the high school students when they put their future on hold,” he said. “They paused their education, and they gave their lives for the future of our country. And many of them, even after they returned, could never go back to the life that they left behind.”

“We stand in respect for them,” he said.

Sharon Fischer, principal at Stettler Elementary School, helped guide her 550 students to the gymnasium for the service.

“It is important to celebrate Remembrance Day as a school family because not all students have an opportunity to take part in community services,” she said. “As a school it is a our responsibility to educate our students on a number of fronts, and this is but one of them. Our freedom of education, speech, and religion, as well as the freedom to choose our government representatives are all because of the sacrifice that so many men and women made on our behalf. The least we can do is take the time to remember this sacrifice.”

She said that history tends to repeat itself and it’s important that schools do not let up on educating students about what caused the conflicts and the sacrifices required to end them.

“Time and distance removes an element of reality for our students, so it is all the more important that we take the time to remember what took place so many years ago,” she said.