The Remembrance Day services at SMUS have a deep significance for the school and its history. Many of our alumni fought for their country and sacrificed their lives to provide a better future for us.
The Middle and Senior School service was held on Thursday morning. Our talented students and staff worked together to create a poignant and emotional event.
It’s tough for most of us to fathom how difficult it is to be involved in war. But by remembering what happened in the past, we can look for ways to prevent these conflicts from happening in the future.
Our tradition at the SMUSpaper is to publish Rev. Keven Fletcher’s speech and prayer from the service.
Names are important to us.
When we walk into our Chapel, three of the walls are banked by oak plaques that name every student who has graduated since 1907. Alumni drift through the doors on a regular basis, each picking out his or her own name; often pointing them out to loved ones in tow.
The very nature of searching through the boards underscores that all those named are tied together by their collective experience here, shared across the years.
It only takes a little curiosity to see how much the names hold in common with us. Take for example the very first name on the very first plaque: Walter J Pearse.
Walter was a boarder who excelled in studies, sport, and friendship. You probably have a few buddies who could easily fit that description. After graduating, he attended McGill University, where he made a name for himself in tennis and distance running. He was elected to student governance positions, and, yes, he found himself at the top of his academic class. In 1911, Walter was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University.
You can probably imagine a few of your classmates right now with that kind of future in the works. Perhaps you feel that an equally laudable, though different, path lies before you. That’s good.
Of course (you know where I’m going with this), you’ve already guessed that Walter’s name is not only on that first plaque, it’s also on another list – the one we read out today. Walter J. Pearce was killed in action during the First World War.
So many names will be read today that you might miss his. In reality, we don’t actually need to hear it as if he’s somehow different from the rest, because he wasn’t. None of us are.
Today, we’ll remember them all.
We’ll remember them when we read Captain Harvey’s letter and hear his conviction about living life with honour. We’ll remember them when the Middle School choir sings of what exists after the boots are dried and the tobacco’s gone and the crosses are planted in the fields. We’ll remember them when the drama group takes us to that place and experience by asking “What happened in those fields where spent shells and skeletons take root?”
This morning, there will be no talk of sides or victories. There is only the remembering of the dead: the names from our school, representing the millions upon millions who died.
A Prayer of Remembrance
Beloved God, today we remember the dead.
When we recall their moments of courage, may we employ that courage in our own lives.
When we ponder their willingness to sacrifice, ;may we find the resolve to devote ourselves to larger causes.
When we recollect the values that they held dear, may we recommit ourselves to what we hold dear.
And God, even as we leave this gathering, may we not leave behind its meaning so that when we listen to the news, to the words of our leaders, to the pleas of our sisters and brothers throughout the world, we may play our part:
– serving the needs of others
– being honest about who we are and what we need to change
– respecting that there are many ways to see our world and its challenges
– and, ultimately, finding the courage to act.
All this, God, so that the promise of this world can be realized, a place where swords are beaten into plowshares; a place where everyone’s needs are met and we have no one to fear.
This is your vision. This is our prayer. Amen.
Today, we’ve remembered the first person named on that first board, Walter Pearse. We’ve remembered the letter penned by Captain Robert Harvey. And we’ve remembered by name every member of our community who died in the Wars.
But the remembering doesn’t end there. One last thing: We need to remember that there are people in this world, out there, right now, who face the same horrors that took their lives. And each of their names is as important as any that have been spoken today.
For their sake and for ours, we remember those who have died, by finding a better way to live in our own time.
Go in peace; go and build peace.
Lest we forget.