The names of veterans who served their country with their lives can be found throughout the Pleasant Valley Cemetery. On Friday morning Vernon’s youth spoke those names aloud, lest they be forgotten.
More than 100 students from Harwood Elementary, Mission Hill Elementary and W.L. Seaton Secondary attended the fourth annual No Stone Left Alone ceremony in the cemetery.
Guided by volunteers and their teachers, students read the names on the headstones of veterans in the cemetery before placing poppies on each one.
“You are the youth of today that will continue to ensure that these individuals whose names you will say out loud shall live again,” Warrant Officer Peter Jones said to the crowd of school kids, helping to open the ceremony.
A member of the BC Dragoons, Jones is retiring from the force this year after 36 years of service.
Vernon Legion’s Bill Carr lead the remembrance service at the event. Carr honoured those who served in the First World War, which ended 100 years ago last year. But he also asked that the audience think of those who have served in more recent conflicts.
“When we remember, our remembrance is shifting from not just First World War … but into more comprehensive services by Canadians in many, many areas.”
For Mission Hill teacher Chad Soon, bringing his students to the ceremony is a way to bridge the gap between today’s young generation and the generations that served when the world needed them most – a gap that grows wider every year.
“It’s so hard every year to see more and more veterans from the big conflicts (WWI and WWII) go, and to try to keep that connection to that past so the kids can understand where our freedoms come from, and also to empathize with the sacrifices those people made,” said Soon.
While all students decorated headstones with poppies, some also played a role in the ceremony. Sophie Joerissen and Sierra Munroe of Harwood Elementary recited John McCrae’s famous poem, In Flanders Fields, in French and English. W.L. Seaton’s Seamus Powell graced the ceremony with his bagpipe playing, and Mission Hill’s Thomas Sanborn read out A Commitment to Remember by Eric de Kroon.
Volunteer members of the Dragoons, the Vernon Legion and the Vernon and District Family History Society were there to assist students as they placed their poppies.