Ottawa Trip: Remembrance Day Ceremonies

On November 11, 2011, three LCC students and I joined over 250 students that came from coast to coast, in Ottawa for the Remembrance Day ceremony. This trip was organized by Operation Veteran, which was founded by an LCC graduate, Dr. Paul Kavanagh ’70. Operation Veteran ensures that all veterans who visit the Canadian War Museum are able to get a free meal at the cafeteria. This cause is supported by private donors and student fundraising initiatives which run throughout the year, and is an ever-expanding project.

We left for Ottawa at 6:30 am. When we arrived, all the students went to the Canada Room of the Laurier Building, where Dr. Kavanagh gave a short talk about Operation Veteran. We then went outside for the ceremony, which was amazing. Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper were there, along with a host of other government and military officials. It seemed like half the people that I saw were in uniform! There was a 21-gun salute, and bagpipes and a bugle were played. There was also a choir that sang during the laying of the wreaths at the National War Memorial. There must have been 30 groups that placed wreaths on the monument. There were also two fighter jets that flew overhead and a formation of helicopters. The speeches were especially moving because, every minute or two, a gun would go off. It was a poignant reminder of the sacrifices that we were remembering.

After the ceremony, we placed our poppies on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which is part of the War Memorial. Afterwards, we made our way to the Canadian War Museum, which was a really great experience. I discovered the meaning of a couple of the medals that were won by my great-uncles. There were also some really memorable exhibits. I walked through a replica of a trench and touched a chunk of the Berlin Wall!

On the whole, this day was just such an incredible experience, and I’m so glad that I had the chance to go!—Julia Peterson ’13

Operation Veteran

cdn_war_museumA normal November 11th for LCC students would involve missing an hour of class to take part in a Remembrance Day ceremony in the Memorial Gym. During this time, the younger generations try to imagine what it would be like going off to war, not knowing the outcome or if they would ever return. Fortunately for five LCC students, the outcome of their day exceeded their expectations in every way.

Arriving in Ottawa, teachers and students alike were curious to see what the day had in store. It began with a brief meet and greet with distinguished guests who were taking part in the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. These students had the privilege of taking part in an initiative started by a generous couple that believes in the importance of teaching younger generations the need for peace. They created an organization that permits veterans to have a fresh hot meal four days of the year at the War Museum in Ottawa, as well as bringing students to Ottawa on November 11th. This year in particular marked a significant event for Operation Veteran; it is the first year where they have received enough donations to supply hot meals to veterans every day of the year.

Following the meet and greet, the group travelled to the Tomb of the Unknown Solder to watch the ceremony. Many students were surprised to see more then 30,000 people ready to remember the fallen of WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan. Throughout the ceremony, Canadians remembered the soldiers who gave up their lives for their freedom. The students were able to see the impact war has on our society, and the amount of people that were affected by the wars. The most memorable part of the ceremony was the poem written by the ten-year-old daughter of a fallen soldier. It surprised me the most because a ten-year-old isn’t supposed to know anything about war or death. As the ceremony was brought to close with the singing of the choir, many of the 30,000 Canadians in attendance put their poppies on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Around noon, we had lunch with two veterans who spoke to us about their time in the war. Although the war seems like a dire subject, these veterans kept their stories light and positive. We were also given the opportunity to see a lecture by an author who has written a book about the Highway of Heroes. As someone who did not know that this was going, I was particularly moved by the idea and of some of the stories she told. Our final activity of the day was a tour of the war museum. The guide gave us some insightful details and information about the architecture of the building and some of its symbolism. In many sections of the building the windows create a sentence in Morse code, for example, Lest We Forget. It was incredible to look at the artifacts from these wars and understand some of the weaponry used during those times. Throughout the museum, many other veterans were there who taught us about their jobs in the war. Being able to talk to many of these veterans was a rare opportunity that we were lucky enough to have.

At the end of the day, the bus ride back to Montreal was quiet. All 40 students had experienced, learned and remembered.

We would like to thank the creators of Operation Veteran who allowed us to go to Ottawa. November 11, 2010, was the first day that I truly understood what it meant to be Canadian. I believe that every student will remember their experience and be forever moved. –Christiane Heseltine ’12