Our school community gathered this week for two poignant services to mark Remembrance Day and to honour those who fought for our country and have served in the military.
Our school’s roots have been growing for more than a century, and with that comes a strong connection to the First and Second World Wars. Every year, Senior School students read aloud 133 names of students and faculty who lost their lives in those wars, and extinguish a candle for each of them.
It is deeply important for us as a community to never forget their names, and to pay our respect to them for their commitment to our country. This year, Rev. Keven Fletcher highlighted one of those people, Jack Grogan, to help ensure that we never forget all the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
As is tradition, below you can read Rev. Fletcher’s speech and blessing, delivered during the Middle and Senior School Remembrance Day Service:
Remembrance Day 2019
On our way to this ceremony, none of us had to push aside rubble or wonder how some crumbled structure might be rebuilt.
Most of us know little of war. Some less than little.
So this morning we remind ourselves of its cost… and my hope is that this exercise isn’t theoretical. After all, when we read the letter from Captain Harvey, we’re hearing from someone who left his homeland and never came back.
And later, when we extinguish those candles one by one, we’re remembering actual students of the school, each an individual, each mourned by a circle of family and friends.
But even with that said, this may still seem abstract. Let’s make it more concrete.
This photo was taken only three or so weeks ago. That’s David Angus, Class of 1962 and a former Chair of our Board. He’s pictured here standing at the grave of his uncle, someone who also attended our school: Jack Grogan.
This is what Jack looked like when he was here, walking the halls of School House. I’m told that he was an enthusiastic rugby and cricket player, though not so enthusiastic an academic. Some of you may relate. It’s so very easy to imagine this young guy running across our rugby pitch, ball in hand.
You know what comes next.
Tragically, his life ended on May 19, 1945 while serving with the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was 26 years old.
Every name you hear as the candles are extinguished, every one of those names connects to its own pictures and stories and circle of family and friends. And, beyond the loss represented by these candles, consider the tens of millions more who died in these conflicts.
Imagine for a moment that amount of light being cast into darkness.
Today we remember them all. There will be no talk of sides or victories, only the remembrance of those who lost their lives in the collective madness of war.
So, when the orchestra plays, when the choir sings, when the poem is recited, when the names are read, and when the silence is held, don’t allow this to become an abstract exercise.
This morning, think of Jack.
Remembrance Day Blessing
Through pictures and song, words and silence, we’ve remembered the dead.
As with our arrival, when we depart, we still won’t have to push aside rubble or wonder how some crumbled structure might be rebuilt.
Hopefully, though, we’ll take the memory of Jack with us, so that the lessons of this day continue to hold.
Before we do leave, one last thought to take with us: there are people in this world, out there right now, who face the same combination of human-driven horrors that took lives in the past. And each of their names is as important as any that have been spoken today.
For their sake and for ours, may we remember those who have died by finding a better way to live in our own time.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of good in this world. We can draw inspiration from it and we can add to it.
So go in peace; go and build peace.