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‘The torch has been passed’: West Island students participate in Remembrance Day ceremony

Click to play video: 'Beaconsfield holds Remembrance Day ceremony to honour veterans' Beaconsfield holds Remembrance Day ceremony to honour veterans
The City of Beaconsfield held a Remembrance Day ceremony Thursday afternoon. As Gloria Henriquez reports, students from local schools as well as some West Island politicians were on hand to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice – Nov 11, 2021

West Island students and local politicians participated in a Remembrance Day ceremony to honour veterans.

The ceremony was held at Heroes’ Park in Beaconsfield.

It started as young Canadians carried the flag and veterans lowered it to half-mast to pay their respects to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Students from Christmas Park Elementary, John Rennie High School and Beaconsfield Highschool participated and put forward their talents to honour the lives lost in the quest for freedom.

Students played The Last Post and also read John McRae’s In Flanders Fields poem.

Read more: Handwritten copy of ‘In Flanders Fields’ remains in Montreal archives

Politicians were on hand, their speeches focused on the young.

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“As you’re growing up and become the leaders of tomorrow, there are a lot of freedoms you have here at home still. Do not take your freedoms for granted,” said Jacques-Cartier MNA, Greg Kelley.

Students were also reminded how the man their school board is named after also served in the war.

Lester B. Pearson volunteered for service during World War I and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his diplomatic efforts in the wake of the Suez Crisis (a military and political confrontation in Egypt), and now he serves as an example to them.

Beaconsfield Mayor Georges Bourelle told students that just like McCrae said in his poem, the torch has been passed on to them.

“Hold it high, Lest We Forget,” the mayor said.

Read more: Remembrance Day 2021 marks return of in-person ceremonies across most of Canada

It’s a responsibility some students say they don’t take lightly.

“It’s very important, we all need to do that, to make our community and all of Canada a better place to live in,” said Beaconsfield High School student Jakob Desmeules.

Veterans like retired Major General Richard Gratton say they are touched to see younger generations participate.

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“It’s heartwarming,” said Gratton.

Gratton was the master of ceremonies and shared a story of his visit to The National Field of Honour cemetery in Pointe-Claire, where a tomb there marked him forever.

“It’s this boy who’s lied on his application and was killed and on the tomb, the headstone [read] aged 15. And that was the message that dawned on me, today when I saw the kids … I should tell them that there’s people who make sacrifices and this kid who’s 15 years old … gave his life,” Gratton said.

It was a stunning anecdote for Desmeules.

“I’m 12, so that’s only three years apart. No, I really cannot imagine that,” said Desmeules.

As difficult as those stories can be, Gratton, who served in Afghanistan, says it’s important to know our past so we don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

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