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2021 No Stone Left Alone ceremony: ‘We will remember’

Click to play video: 'No Stone Left Alone 2021: Full Ceremony' No Stone Left Alone 2021: Full Ceremony
No Stone Left Alone 2021: Full Ceremony – Nov 5, 2021

On Thursday, Nov. 4, a special tradition to remember the fallen continued at Edmonton’s Beechmount Cemetery.

No Stone Left Alone started with one family and has now grown into an effort to ensure every soldier is remembered with a poppy. It is now in its 11th year.

The No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation hosts Remembrance Day events for students with the mission to place poppies on the headstones of veterans, while educating the public on the stories of sacrifice by members of the armed forces.

Click to play video: '‘This education can build bridges that will last a lifetime’: Sohi speaks at 2021 No Stone Left Alone ceremony' ‘This education can build bridges that will last a lifetime’: Sohi speaks at 2021 No Stone Left Alone ceremony
‘This education can build bridges that will last a lifetime’: Sohi speaks at 2021 No Stone Left Alone ceremony – Nov 4, 2021

This year, there were 83 No Stone Left Alone ceremonies in Canada and two international ones — in Poland and the Netherlands — involving nearly 5,000 students.

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Read more: ‘My stomach dropped’: 20 years later, former Canadian decision-makers reflect on 9/11

The 2021 event was especially significant for two reasons: it comes about 20 years after Canada’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan began and it marks the 100th anniversary of the symbolic poppy.

“This year the poppy is marking its 100th anniversary of Canada’s symbol of remembrance,” Lieut-Gov. Salma Lakhani said.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi and Edmonton MP Randy Boissonault also attended the service.

Click to play video: '‘This education can build bridges that will last a lifetime’: Sohi speaks at 2021 No Stone Left Alone ceremony' ‘This education can build bridges that will last a lifetime’: Sohi speaks at 2021 No Stone Left Alone ceremony
‘This education can build bridges that will last a lifetime’: Sohi speaks at 2021 No Stone Left Alone ceremony – Nov 4, 2021

Brig.-Gen. William H. Fletcher pointed out that the No Stone Left Alone theme in 2021 was Afghanistan.

He said being in the cemetery, surrounded by headstones, made him feel sadness and loss for all the families affected by war.

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“It’s a concrete and visceral reminder of the cost of freedom,” he said. “Families forever changed in the process.

He said, for the Canadians who have served, “it means taking care of one another, it means doing what must be done knowing fully what the cost may be.”

For the youth, he said, “they know the human cost of war and conflict.”

Fletcher said he’s hopeful that the youth learning about the sacrifices today will go on to make Canada a better place and that they “do not have to know war and strife.”

Click to play video: 'Marking the 100th anniversary of the remembrance poppy' Marking the 100th anniversary of the remembrance poppy
Marking the 100th anniversary of the remembrance poppy – Nov 1, 2021

Sherry Clark lost her son Joel Vincent Wiebe in Afghanistan in 2007 in a road-side bomb. He was 22.

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She said seeing people take part in ceremonies of remembrance makes her heart happy.

“Every time someone places a poppy on their headstone, every time someone says their name, they are remembered.”

Read more: Canadian death toll in Afghan mission: 157 members of Forces, 2 civilians

No Stone Left Alone Foundation president Maureen Bianchini-Purvis is the daughter of two Second World War veterans. She promised her dying mother that she would not be forgotten on Remembrance Day.

Year after year, she visited her mother’s grave at Beechmount Cemetery in Edmonton, laying a poppy in remembrance, and continuing the tradition with her own children.

When her daughters noticed the many graves in the Field of Honour that lay bare, the idea for No Stone Left Alone was born.

Click to play video: 'No Stone Left Alone: ‘It is a concrete and visceral reminder of the cost of freedom’' No Stone Left Alone: ‘It is a concrete and visceral reminder of the cost of freedom’
No Stone Left Alone: ‘It is a concrete and visceral reminder of the cost of freedom’ – Nov 4, 2021

“I remember being a young child and standing at my grandmother’s headstone and since it’s on the other side of the cemetery, you look out at this vast grouping of hundreds and hundreds of headstones and I said, ‘Mom, why is it just us? Why is it only our grandparents that have a poppy? Don’t all these souls deserve to be recognized?’” Keely Yates said.

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“I think it was profound for a 10-year-old to say. And she decided to run with it. And now, look where we are 10 years later.”

Read more: Founder of No Stone Left Alone receives prestigious Governor General award

Today, the non-profit organization works with the military, volunteer committees, students and Alberta educators.

Students — typically in junior high — place the poppies, and learn about the sacrifices made by Canada’s veterans, and those who still serve today.

No Stone Left Alone began in 2011 in Edmonton and is now observed across the country.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton family vows never to forget fallen soldiers' Edmonton family vows never to forget fallen soldiers
Edmonton family vows never to forget fallen soldiers – Nov 11, 2021

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