Young children brushed freshly fallen snow off the tops of headstones belonging to Canada’s fallen at Alto Reste Cemetery on Tuesday morning and put a poppy in its place.
Grade 4 students from Father Henri Voisin School were participating for the first time in the No Stone Left Alone ceremony, a national event that honours the sacrifice and service of Canada’s military. It aims to educate students by placing poppies on the headstones of veterans every November.
“It takes the importance of Remembrance Day and makes it tangible for them,” said Jessica Maloughney, an event organizer with the school. “A lot of the time, if it is abstract ideas, they have never lived through a war, they have never had to experience that themselves and this is an opportunity for them to really see the impact that these people have had on their lives and the lives of our community.”
Launched in 2011, No Stone Left Alone recognizes the sacrifice Canadian men and women who lost their lives made fighting in war abroad. In 2017, 8,001 students took part in the ceremony in 101 cemeteries across Canada. The annual event is growing each year, reads the No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation website.
Tuesday’s ceremony gave students the chance to pay their respects. All the participants sang O Canada and recited the poem, In Flanders Fields, followed by two minutes of silence.
After placing some poppies on headstones, Grade 4 student Katie Johnson said celebrating No Stone Left Alone was a good idea.
“You remember all the soldiers,” she said. “I felt like it was nice to the soldiers and thanks them for fighting the war for you and for world peace.”
Grade 4 student Serin Girard said the celebration remembers every soldier.
“It was really special,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Tanya Handley, Councillor Michael Dawe and Councillor Ken Johnston also attended the ceremony.
“This was an absolutely beautiful way for these kids to remember veterans and people who have died and served in World Wars,” Handley said. “It made it very real for them and they actually read their names and thanked them. It was a wonderful experience.”
She added, “It was nice to see the next generation actually saying people’s names out loud and acknowledging their sacrifice. It was beautiful.”