The Importance of Remembrance: Remembrance Day 2017

On November 11th, St. George’s held its annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the Senior School, commemorating and remembering those who gave their lives during World War I and subsequent wars.

While Remembrance Day service is one of St. George’s largest events.This year, the date fell on a Saturday, meaning that students would normally not have school. Despite this, Georgians attended the ceremony in full force, with over 90% of them present. In total, there were over 1,000 attendees, many of them Saints alumni.

After many hours of preparation, the ceremony began at 10:30 sharp with the singing of “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” as flags of different countries were brought forward and given to the Minister on the stage.

This was followed by a spirited singing of “O Canada”, where everyone stood at attention.

Christopher Ma
Booklet for Remembrance Day 2017 containing the hymns, prayers and the names of the fallen 24 boys and 3 masters

The ceremony was an interactive occasion, as readings by current St. George’s students were mixed in between the prayers and hymns. Representatives from each grade were chosen and read traditional Remembrance Day literature including McRae’s “In Flander’s Fields”, Hardy’s “The Man He Killed”, and Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est”. Nicholas Young of Grade 11 led the Act of Commitment prayer before the service concluded with the hymn “Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah” and the departure of the flags and staff. During the ceremony, donations were taken for the Legion Poppy Fund to help veterans and their families. As per tradition, the names of the 24 old boys and 3 masters who died in the war were read during the ceremony.

One may wonder why St. George’s considers Remembrance Day such an important occasion. In order to get an answer, I interviewed Mr. Gary Kern, the senior school principal, about the importance of Remembrance Day to the Saints community. He said “Remembrance Day allows us to remember the past. Saints have personal connections to remembrance and it allows us to remember what November 11 represents. It allows us to remember our fallen students and masters and teaches us how to be global citizens.”

I asked him why he thought Remembrance Day was important to him personally, to which he shared “It is important to me because it allows me and everybody to reflect on the past, building the present while creating a better future for everybody. That is why I wish the students will learn the importance of remembrance as it is still relevant today.” My final question was about the guests who were attending the ceremony: “Besides students, we invited back the Georgians as well as Georgians who served in the Canadian military.” Mr. Kern’s words show the importance of remembrance not only for those in school but for those who have moved beyond it.

Another traditional aspect of the Remembrance Day ceremony is the return of alumni to observe the occasion. When interviewed, Mr. Charles Turton, a current staff, and class of 2012 alumni had this to say:

“Remembrance Day has always been a big deal even when I was in Grade 8 back in 2008.”

When asked about the how things have changed now that he is a staff, Mr. Turton had this to say:

“What hasn’t changed is my enjoyment of the ceremony. Except for the change of seating, my opinion still remains the same as Remembrance Day is still an important day and will always remain so.”

While the students have changed, the appreciation that St. George’s shows to the sacrifices made by its former students and staff has not and will never change. Lest We Forget.