September 14, 2018 9:09 am
Updated: September 14, 2018 12:43 pm

Polish students hold 2nd No Stone Left Alone ceremony for Canadian WWII soldiers

A poppy lays at a headstone in Rosedale Cemetery in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Adrian Raaber / Global News
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On Friday morning, school children in Kraków, Poland, honoured several Canadian Second World War soldiers buried in a local cemetery during their second annual No Stone Left Alone ceremony.

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READ MORE: 93-year-old WWII veteran praises No Stone Left Alone efforts: ‘They’re doing a tremendous job’

The annual remembrance ceremony honours Canada’s fallen heroes. The No Stone Left Alone initiative aims to place a poppy on the grave of every Canadian who has served in the country’s Armed Forces.

It began with one family in Edmonton’s Beechmount cemetery in 2011. About 4,000 poppies were placed on headstones in the first year.

The movement has since spread to more than 100 locations across Canada, and now to Europe.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s No Stone Left Alone to honour fallen soldiers in Krakow, Poland

Last year, the effort to make sure no Canadian soldier is forgotten made its way to Poland.

Randall Purvis, director of the No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation, estimated there are between 2,600 and 2,800 Canadian soldiers buried in allied graves in five different locations in Poland.

At Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery, 276 allied soldiers are buried and of those, 15 are Canadian soldiers who did not return home. Purvis said the Canadians were all pilots or people working in the air, who likely would have been shot down from the skies.

READ MORE: This WWII soldier liberated a whole town by himself, but most Canadians still don’t know his name

The joint invasion of Poland led by Germany in 1939 marked the beginning of the Second World War, which lasted six years. Millions of people in the country died at the hands of Nazis, who built several concentration and death camps in the eastern European nation.

A local school – Szkoła Podstawowa Nr. 58 in Krakow – has committed to holding a No Stone Left Alone ceremony every year at Rakowicki Cemetery.

During Friday’s ceremony that alternated between English and Polish, students placed traditional Canadian military remembrance poppies on the headstones of Canadian and allied soldiers.

READ MORE: Fallen Canadian soldiers honoured in Poland

The students also sang O Canada, read the war poem In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, and laid a wreath at a memorial.

After learning about Canada’s role in the war, a Polish child told Purvis, “Now I know in times of need, we have a friend.” He is proud to see the students carrying on the No Stone Left Alone tradition.

The No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation (NSLA) says the Kraków commemorative event is significant because of the long-standing relationship between Poland and Canada.

“It continues our worldwide initiative to ensure that no Canadian soldier’s headstone is left alone,” the organization said.

READ MORE: No Stone Left Alone remembrance ceremony honours Canada’s fallen military members

For more information on No Stone Left Alone, or to donate to the cause, head to the organization’s website.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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