A red-bearded bagpiper led roughly 100 grade nine students from Gorsebrook Junior High onto the grounds of Fort Massey Cemetery in Halifax on Tuesday.
The students gathered at the military cemetery to participate in the ‘No Stone Left Alone’ remembrance ceremony. The youth-focused initiative aims to recognise the sacrifice of every fallen soldier in Canada by placing a single poppy by each military headstone.
“This is a ceremony that gets young men and women out of the school and actually puts a name to a sacrifice,” said Lt.-Col John McEachern, the Nova Scotia event coordinator.
The initiative is a first for Nova Scotia. The growing campaign was launched in Edmonton four years ago by Maureen Bianchini-Purvis.
This year, over 5,000 students will place roughly 23,000 poppies in 83 cemeteries across the country by Remembrance Day.
“We’re trying to make sure that the young men and women of the next generation don’t forget the sacrifices that people made before them,” said Lt.-Col. McEachern.
Initiative called a success
Gorsebrook Junior High student Darya Gholami is glad her school participated in ‘No Stone Left Alone’.
“We get to individually thank each person who sacrificed their life for us,” she said.
Principal David Leblanc feels the initiative is more powerful than a Remembrance Day assembly held in the school gymnasium.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to be involved physically and tangibly in remembering the veterans,” he said.
Canadian Armed Forces members from the 5 Canadian Division and 3 Military Police Regiment had a chance to reflect on their personal experiences as they joined students at the event.
Maj. Doug Henderson still remembers placing a poppy at the grave-site of a young trooper during a similar Remembrance Day ceremony at Juno Beach cemetery many years ago.
“He was a member of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers,” said Maj. Henderson. “He was only about 19 years old and I still think of him.”