November 8, 2010
By Jason Misner
COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER, HDSB STAFF
It was a solemn beginning to a week of remembrance and reflection that has started at Oakville Trafalgar High School to help the community acknowledge the ultimate sacrifices of Canadian solders.
With Remembrance Day on Thursday, November 11, the school held a poignant opening ceremony on Thursday, November 4 to launch a unique student-driven national vigil designed to honour those who fought in wars. The hour-long ceremony included a speech from Oakville resident and author Tom Douglas, whose father fought in, and survived the Second World War, as a member of the 19th Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery.
In addition, a number of OT students told the life story about a particular solder they had researched, illustrating the men behind the uniforms. As well, an emotional five-minute video was played about the Great Wars. Historical records show 11 men from Oakville Trafalgar High School died in WWI.
The weeklong vigil at Oakville Trafalgar High School will see names of the 68,000 Canadians who lost their lives in WWI projected onto a wall in the Library Seminar Room. Periodically, an image will appear of one of the 3,600 cemeteries where the Canadians are buried.
The Library Seminar Room will also feature attestation papers, images, poems, musical selections, plus other WWI research documents prepared by Grade 10 Canadian History classes will be on display. The vigil is a partnership with the Churchill Society for the Advancement of Parliamentary Democracy, the International Churchill Society Canada and Veteran Affairs Canada.
To view public viewing times at the vigil, click here.
Author Douglas said after the ceremony he’s happy to see OT students take such a keen interest in the war as a way to tell the soldiers’ stories.
“I think it’s wonderful,” he says. “There was a time even when the vets didn’t want to talk about (the war). …if you don’t remember history, you’re doomed to repeat it.”
Stressing students – some who have also participated in OT’s Great War Project – have been the driving force behind the planning, preparation and delivering of the vigil event, Teacher Pam Calvert says she is very proud of their commitment to this project.
“I think there’s been a resurgence and interest in remembering (soldiers),” she says. “Here’s another opportunity (for the public) to come and see what students are doing to remember.”
One of the organizing students of the vigil, Grade 12 student Evan Formosa, says the vigil is “special” and hopes people can attend.
“It’s a good feeling to see it all come together, especially today, to see people come out and support us in this project,” the 17 year old says, amazed at soldiers’ courage to fight. “You watch that (opening ceremony) video and you think that’s what those men did.”
Superintendent Stuart Miller hopes the public will take the opportunity to stop by the school and remember the lives of brave Canadian soldiers.
“There’s a reason we have to remember and it’s important to do it,” he says. “It’s just as important students remember.”
To learn more of the school's vigil, call Oakville Trafalgar High School at 905-845-2875. Visit www.1914-1918.ca to learn more about the national vigil.