Children lay poppies at graves of soldiers buried at National Military Cemetery

Students and members of the Canada’s military paid tribute to the fallen soldiers who rest at the National Military Cemetery in a ceremony to remember and honour the lives of those who fought for our country.

As the Last Post rang out, in tribute to the soldiers who died protecting Canada, students with École élémentaire catholique Saint-François-D’Asisse grasped the enormous cost of war.

“I didn’t realize how many soldiers have sacrificed their lives and there’s a lot of soldiers who aren’t even here,” says Grade 6 student Polly Almstedt, as she looks across hundreds of graves. “It’s sad when you kneel down and read the name and put the poppy there and not all of them are old a lot of them are new.”

Almstedt is among the dozens of students in grades 5 and 6 who are taking part in a ceremony to ‘leave no stone left alone’, which honours the lives of lost soldiers by placing a poppy at each of their graves.

As Acacia Hanvelt walks down row after row of headstones, she discovers another truth.

“Some of them died very young and there are people back at home who still wanted them to come home and they never did,” says Hanvelt, who recognizes the importance of Monday’s event. “I would say thank you for helping everyone here.”

Viceregal Consort of Canada Whit Fraser, spouse of Governor General Mary May Simon, opened the ceremony and spoke about the legacy of fallen soldiers, their contribution and the difference they made for Canadians. He, along with members of the Armed Forces, joined the students to lay poppies.

“Each headstone is an individual person, husband, wife,” says Master-Corporal Justin Horton. “It’s important to remember both us as soldiers and, as the new generation coming up, that this was real, real events, real men and women.”

And while student Mikey Borland may not know the history of each soldier who lies at this cemetery, reading their name and placing a poppy ensures that who they are and what they did will be remembered.

“I’m participating here by doing my duty as a Canadian citizen by remembering those who fought for our country and for our freedoms,” says Borland. “I hope that they still have people who love them alive and that they’re remembered in the hearts of those who love them.”

WREATHS ACROSS CANADA

As another sign of remembrance, Wreaths Across Canada Foundation wants to ensure no stone is left alone during the holiday season and is looking for donations in order to place a wreath on the tombstones of 6,500 soldiers at the National Military Cemetery on Dec. 5.

“This is really a grassroots event where the fundraising is done by individuals,” says Nick McCarthy, Vice President with Wreaths Across Canada. “We’re always looking for help and we’re having our first inaugural gala on Nov. 20. We’re looking for people to buy tickets, buy tables and join us. It’s a wonderful way to start the Christmas season while not forgetting the sacrifice of soldiers.”

The gala will take place at the River Lounge, Ramada by Windham. Tickets start at $125 and are available online.