This year’s Remembrance Day Service was, out of necessity, different than in years past. A key piece of our community traditions is coming together as a school to recognize the importance of this day and to remember the 134 St. Michael’s School and University School students and faculty who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars.
While we could not gather together, we could still continue other key traditions from our Remembrance Day Service to honour these individuals, including the reading of University School founder Captain R.V. Harvey’s 1914 letter to the school and the Roll of Honour, in a pre-filmed service. We also heard from school chaplain, Keven Fletcher, as he highlighted the shared realities of lives disrupted.
Below, you can read his words, delivered during the service. You can watch the full Remembrance Day Service above.
Remembrance Day 2020
We think that we’ve had quite a year, and we have: remote learning last spring, weeks of quarantine before some of us could set foot on campus, masks and social distancing even now.
Then, when we step back and cast our eyes on the world, we’ve seen fires beyond recollection, political institutions undermined, a global health and economic crisis that most impacts the least fortunate.
And there is no quick remedy for any of this on the horizon.
Even when it comes to our own intimate worlds, we already know that the coming winter break will be different. For most of us the gatherings will be smaller, if they happen at all, and we’ll be navigating relationships with friends and family who might be approaching these times with contrary understandings to our own.
Of course, we’re not alone in this. People are facing this shared reality all around the world.
And yet, even now, even with all of this, we’ve still only scratched the surface of what it means to be at war. We’ve lined up for flour and sugar, worried about loved ones, mourned the loss of civility and witnessed the destruction of nature and homes, but this is not the same as falling into that utter madness.
So on this day, we remember a disruption of a whole other magnitude, one that twists our very nature, and drains what makes us whole.
On this day, we remember our fallen by reading the letter from Captain Harvey, who never returned, and speaking the names of alumni, who served and died.
On this day, we remember during our silence that the loss extended far beyond our walls, and our nations, and that there is no place here for talk of sides and victories, only loss.
Through pictures and song, words and silence, we’ve remembered the dead. In a matter of seconds, we’ll turn off our screens and go back to our lives.
May we do so recognizing that there are people in this world, out there, right now, who face the same horror of war that took lives in the past. Each of their names is as important as any that have been spoken today.
May we also recognize that although not at war, we live in our own time of massive disruption.
Whether we’re talking about public health or racial justice or economic disparity, how we choose to engage with each other will shape the road and years ahead.
So if ever there was a time to exercise compassion, generosity, humility – it’s now. If there ever was a time to hold true to our community’s values, to be willing to serve, to be honest, to be respectful, to show courage – it’s now.
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; people who are willing to rise to these challenges and offer themselves to higher causes. We can draw inspiration from them and we can add to their work.
So go in peace; go and build peace.
Lest we forget. Amen.