As the rain began to drizzle, six grade 10 girls from Vernon’s W.L. Seaton Secondary placed the last of their poppies beside the gravestone of a Canadian veteran.
Like they had done with the previous 23 poppies, the girls stood at the headstone, heads looking down at the name, and reflected on the sacrifice made by that soldier and his comrades in arms in both World Wars.
The students from Yvonne Fiala’s class were part of almost 300 students who will lay more than 1,200 poppies in Vernon’s Pleasant Valley Cemetery, part of the annual No Stone Left Alone ceremony that recognizes the sacrifices of all the military personnel.
“This year, we are pinning the poppies in the ground beside the grave instead of on top so the poppies don’t blow away,” said Lawrna Myers with the No Stone Left Alone Foundation.
Among the group of six working with a volunteer and Lt. McLaughlin from the B.C. Dragoons in laying the poppies were Danica Cowley and Kalli Johnstone. The students from Seaton, their classmates and students from Harwood Elementary placed the poppies following a Royal Canadian Legion service for the event, organized by Myers and Bill Carr of the Legion.
“I think it was a great ceremony and we’re respecting their memory,” said Johnstone. “They (soldiers) fought for Canada and should be respected.”
Added Cowley: “I think it was a very important ceremony, I’m blessed to be here today and I think it’s important that we commemorate the soldiers that fought and died for us in the World Wars.”
The ceremony, for the first time, had a student colour guard from Seaton carrying the flags to open the ceremony under the watch of Legion Sgt. At Arms Doug Weaving. The honourary flagbearers were Cory Maksymchuk, Sophie Mitchell, Brodie Bieber and Ulyana Doerksen.
Carr, joined by members of the Legion, RCMP, Dragoons and Vernon and District Family History Society, opened the ceremony by telling the students and guests about the impact of the soldiers returning home from the First World War. He later recited the Prayer of Remembrance.
Seaton Grade 10 student Dayton Mason read aloud Lt.-Col. John McCrae’s historical First World War poem, In Flanders Fields, while Harwood Grade 6 student Tanika Mix recited the Commitment to Remember.
Retired Lt.-Col. Larry Gilchrist of Vernon recited a verse from the Act of Remembrance.
Capt. Jason Pass played the Last Post and Rouse on trumpet. The Last Post was followed by two minutes of silence.
The final duty for the ceremony fell to Harwood students Elijah Munkholm and Ataway Jewson, who laid the No Stone Left Alone wreath at the base of the Field of Honour Cenotaph in the cemetery.
Students from Mission Hill Elementary and Vernon Secondary School will be laying poppies Wednesday, Nov. 10.