St. Albert students ensured that no stone was left alone Monday as part of a national event to honour Canada’s war dead.
About 390 W.D. Cuts students were at the St. Albert Cemetery on Poundmaker Road Monday to place poppies on the graves of military and RCMP veterans as part of the national No Stone Left Alone event.
Now in its seventh year, the No Stone Left Alone event has students honour military veterans by visiting military grave sites and placing poppies on them. Some 7,787 students at 100 cemeteries in every province and territory participated this year, reports the No Stone Left Alone Foundation.
Enduring frigid winds, the students stood amongst the headstones and fresh-fallen snow as they recited In Flanders Fields and listened to The Last Post. Korean War veteran Capt. Gord Carter, Morinville RCMP Sgt. Dale Kendall and other dignitaries placed commemorative wreaths before Grade 9 students from W.D. Cuts moved in to deposit their poppies.
Bertha Kennedy students performed a similar rite at the St. Albert Catholic Parish cemetery that same day, as did Calder School students at the Poplar Lake cemetery near the Edmonton Garrison.
About 75 graves in the St. Albert cemetery’s Field of Honour and 15 others in the municipal section were included in this year’s ceremony, said Bob Fagan, past president of the St. Albert Royal Canadian Legion and event organizer.
Fagan said it was important for today’s youth to be able to relate to what the people in these graves did in the past through ceremonies such as No Stone Left Alone.
“They were real people at one time. They served their country and they served the people that come out to (pay) respect to them.”
W.D. Cuts student Zoë Brygidyr said this ceremony was particularly poignant for her, as her grandfather was a war veteran.
“It kind of makes me a little bit more emotional when I put that poppy there for people because I know how much they had to go through.”
Fellow student Brooklyne Dhoedt encouraged others to take a moment to reflect when they place their poppy on a military grave or memorial this week.
“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to do this right now.”
St. Albert’s official Remembrance Day ceremony will take place at the cenotaph on St. Anne Street Saturday from 10:30 to noon. Several thousand residents typically attend.
This year’s event will once again feature an array of vintage military vehicles and a parade by current and former members of the armed forces, Fagan said. The parade will march down Taché Street from the Legion hall starting at about 10:40 a.m. and arrive at the cenotaph by about 11 a.m. for the start of the ceremony. After speeches, wreath laying, and a moment of silence, the parade will march back to the Legion hall for refreshments and conversation.
Portions of Taché, St. Anne, and St. Thomas streets and the St. Anne Promenade will be closed from 8 a.m. to noon to accommodate the ceremony, reports the City of St. Albert’s website.
Fagan said residents at the ceremony should remember to wear their poppies on their left lapel. Poppies can stay on your coat until Nov. 12 or be deposited on the cenotaph.