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Remembrance day reflections

November 17, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Avery Park

Since before I can remember, I have been going to ceremonies for Remembrance Day every year, either at school or in the community of Orangeville.

It’s an amazing period in time to give our respect, and our thanks to those who have fought for our freedom. I have always greatly respected this day, and do everything I can to show that.

This year, I have been given a new perspective on the day and its meaning, and what the brave men and women went through. This past April, I had the incredible opportunity to see Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach. The experience to see those places is indescribable.

Everyone reads about the battles in history books, and everyone knows that it happened. They’ll write papers on it and think they understand the entirety of what happened. I’m telling anyone and everyone, to see it in person will give you an entirely new perspective.

We saw Juno Beach first on our trip, all of us went through the museum, and then went down to the beach. Only then did we realize that we had eaten our lunch farther down on that same beach earlier that day, and it hit everyone very hard. Without even realizing it, all of us had been a couple of hundred feet from where D-Day happened.

I got a couple of post cards while I was there, and one was split into two photos. One was taken on D-Day, and the other more recently, but both photos were taken from the exact same position.

That comparison from then and now was a real wake-up call. There is so much history on that beach, and so many people gave their lives in that battle, maybe where I was standing, and it’s a surreal thing to think about.

Next, at Vimy Ridge and the 100-year ceremony, everyone knew where we were as soon as we got off of the bus.

The first things I noticed were the trees all around us, but when I looked at the ground in between those trees, there were huge craters everywhere. I heard some people comment on how there were a lot of hills coming out of the ground, and that they thought the ground here would be flat, just like everywhere else we had seen.

They soon found out that it wasn’t the hills coming out of the ground, but the craters digging into the ground. From explosions everywhere, the terrain had changed so much from the flat ground it probably used to be.

There is a path you walk on to get to the monument for a couple minutes, and as you got closer, the craters are more noticeable and larger. When we came into the clearing around the monument, you could see all of the ground around the area, and how bad the damage was. The people who look after the monument know it’s possible for undetonated explosives to still be underground, so they have you in a clearly marked area.

After the ceremony, there were so many people trying to get to the buses, they opened up some areas they had checked for explosives, so we got to walk in and out of those craters, and my group took a picture in one. It was unbelievable to think of what happened right there in that spot, exactly 100 years ago.

So now, with those experiences in my memory, Remembrance Day, and many other things in my life have a new meaning. Every morning when I stand for O Canada at school, those are the moments I think about.

I have so much more respect for those who fought, and who have family members who fought for us. When I went to my school’s assembly this year, we had members from the Legion there, and each person explained why they were there, and are representing our soldiers.

It feels a lot more real this year when I hear those stories, because when they talk about themselves or a family member fighting at Juno Beach, I have been there. I stood where they were fighting, many years ago. It is absolutely unbelievable.

Everyone in our country knows that on November 11th, we all take a moment to remember, and give our thanks. It is a very powerful day, and will continue to be for all of the years to come.

         

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