On Tuesday at the reception with the Visiting Committee and staff of Armbrae Academy, I caught a glimpse of some names projected on a gymnasium wall. I thought it must be the WWI vigil, but then questioned it – why choose to project the names next to a set of weights? But over the next half hour, I found that I was just so drawn to those names…the spot worked for me.
Gary O’Meara, Head of Armbrae, agreed that the location was curious but effective, and he encouraged me to speak with a parent.
Linda Keddy heard about the vigil from CBC and was thrilled that her children’s school was participating. So she came to the school to see her great uncle‘s name: Aldice Getchell went to war at 19 and died in September 1918. She watched his name come on the screen last Thursday at 3:38pm. She told me, “What was so neat is that the kids could see the names as they worked out. This project was amazing.”
I also saw the vigil playing at Appleby on Monday and at Halifax Grammar on Wednesday, and I know it was simultaneously playing in close to 40 of our SEAL Canada schools as well as over 100 public schools. Neuchatel Junior College students played a special role as they close the vigil in Ypres.
Remembrance day ceremonies are something that our schools take pride in always doing well. I was privileged to see Armbrae’s ceremony yesterday and was moved by a student’s comments afterwards: “I liked the slideshows and the speakers. I thought a lot about my Dad who served over seas for a few months and how lucky my family is. I actually wish our assembly went on longer”.
RH Thomson might have had that need in mind when he had the vision to project the names of the 68,000 Canadians soldiers, sailors, airmen, nurses, doctors and merchant seamen who died in the First World War in schools across Canada.
He understood that Canadians want and do remember their heros for more than just today’s moment of silence.
ps – Also worth watching: A Pittance of Time.