Remembrance Day, originally known as Armistice Day, commemorates the end of the First World War on November 11, 1918. While the original reason for the event took place 100 years ago, its observance has taken on new meaning with each armed conflict involving Canadian soldiers – most recently Afghanistan. While most alumni will recall an assembly or other observation of this special day during their years at NT, in recent years Remembrance Day has become even more profound for NT students.
This year’s assembly on Friday, November 9 was held twice in order to accommodate the school’s population. It began with a song video, Pittance of Time, featuring the ghosts of former soldiers visible only to those willing to partake in a moment of silence in the modern setting of a convenience store. The emotional pull of this piece set the atmosphere for the rest of the event. A bagpiper led a procession of NT veterans into the auditorium. Spanning several generations and representing different conflicts, each veteran was introduced by a student volunteer. A slide show followed featuring photographs of NT grads who lost their lives in World Wars I and II. The young faces in the images looked like many of the students in the auditorium.
Addresses were given by two NT grads currently in active service: Captain John Stevens (’83) and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Clarry (’82). A second slide show outlined Canada’s involvement in peacekeeping missions around the world. Music was provided by the Symphonic Band, and Choir. To draw the assembly to a close, there was a reading of “In Flanders Fields,” the playing of The Last Post, a minute of silence, and Reveille.
This outline does not do justice to the organization behind the event nor to its impact. After the assembly, a reception, supported by monies from the Foundation, was held for the special guests, staff and organizers. During this, it became clear how much the assembly reflected the students who produced it, and how deeply they were invested in its meaning. We need not worry that today’s students “don’t get it”. They do – and at NT they created a powerful reflection of this important day.