Year after year, it’s been tradition for Riverside to pull out all the stops for the Remembrance Day ceremony – and on this historic year the ceremony did not disappoint. This year’s assembly had significant speakers and performances – Ms. Joni Blaxland’s Leadership class and Riverside’s music teacher, Ms. Glenda Ottens, worked hard to make an emotional and poignant ceremony. Two grade 12 students, Megan MacGregor and Sawyer Paige, were the assembly’s Masters of Ceremony (MCs) this year – and they did a fantastic job.
“I think this year’s Remembrance Day assembly really captured a lot of different areas; it was honouring the aboriginals, Canada’s 150 anniversary, and brought up all the latest peacekeeping missions,” said Ottens. “Through his emotional speech, I think the RCMP speaker, Glen Porter’s story brought a bit more of a modernistic attachment for our audience, for our younger audience members who don’t know anyone who fought in a war or served overseas.”
Perhaps the most emotional part of the assembly by far was Porter’s speech to the assembly. The corporal was emotional and arrived with no planned script for his speech. He had just that morning attended a funeral procession for one of his fellow law enforcement officers, Constable John Davidson, who died in a shooting in Abbotsford. Remembrance Day is about honouring not just soldiers, but all those who risk, and sometimes give, their lives in the service of others.
In a surprise appearance, a local music artist, Gordon Maxwell, attended the assembly to perform his “I Am Canadian” song with accompanying video. Ottens connected with him over a project to create a work of remembrance on the atomic bombings that ended the Second World War, and asked him to perform at Riverside’s assembly. “Fun fact, our guest soloist is the father of three ex-Riverside students. It was an honour to work with a local composer and artist outside of this school,” said Ottens.
2017’s Remembrance Day is especially significant to Canada – it’s the 100 anniversary year of both Canada’s greatest success and failure in WWI, the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. Even more significant, in just two years, the world will be celebrating the 100 anniversary of the end of the Great War. Even though the veterans are nearly all gone from the cataclysmic conflicts of the 1900’s, remembering them is just as important as it was in 1919. The sacrifices they made to usher in a new world, one that hasn’t had a major war for over 70 years, will never be forgotten.