Nova Scotia

Broken cenotaph flagpole spurs patriotic students to action

After a recent windstorm broke the flagpole at the Caledonia, N.S., cenotaph, students decided to take responsibility for getting a new one in time to mark the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France.

With local legion closed, students are working on replacing a Caledonia, N.S., flagpole broken in windstorm

The remnants of a broken flagpole at the Caledonia, Queens County cenotaph. (Submitted by Julie Ramey)

With the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaching, it didn't seem right for the cenotaph in a Queens County, N.S., village to be without a flag.

That was the thinking of Grade 9 students at North Queens Community School.

After a recent windstorm broke the flagpole at the Caledonia cenotaph, the students decided to take responsibility for getting a new one in time to mark the June 6 anniversary of the 1944 Allied invasion of Normandy, France.

It normally would fall to the local legion to replace the broken flagpole, but that legion shut its doors a few years ago.

"There's no one really to fix it. The flagpole fell, so we decide to step up to the task," Grade 9 student Sage Apostolofski told CBC's Maritime Noon.

"We've had to consider what kind of flagpole.... We want to get a good one that will last for a long time, so we chose one of the best flagpoles." 

Grade 12 student Rhylee Bower is shown reading the inscription on the cenotaph in Caledonia, N.S. (Submitted by Julie Ramey)

The pole costs $2,500 and the group is about halfway to reaching its fundraising goal, she said.

"We're trying to get donations from the community and things like that. Some of the children in the younger grades have been fundraising money and helping us, you know, just like $5, stuff like that. Everything counts," Apostolofski said.

Part of the money was contributed by Grade 12 students who donated money that was left over from their school trip to First and Second World War sites in France earlier this year.

A trip to Juno

"We received quite a few donations for our trip from Vimy to Juno, which we went on in March. Some of the leftover funds are going towards the [flagpole] project. We're very happy about that," said Grade 12 student Rhylee Bower.

"We're really grateful to have had that experience."

She said the trip was powerful in that they got to see the site where hundreds of Canadian soldiers died in service to their country on June 6, 1944.

"It was incredible. To see the beaches now, they are so beautiful. It is hard to imagine that 75 years ago, those horrible things happened on that beach," said Bower.

North Queen Community School students Sage Apostolofski and Rhylee Bower are shown at the cenotaph in Caledonia, Queens County, where a new flagpole will be erected hopefully by June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The project has helped make the war experience more real for the students, who will also be attending the June 6 D-Day and flagpole-raising ceremonies at the Caledonia cenotaph, said Apostolofski.

"It's really important I think for ... the younger people to get involved with these kind of things and just get educated about these kind of events," she said.

"In class, we went over it and we really learned a lot about what happened and the horrible events that happened there. And rejoice and be glad to be reflecting about it and learning about it."

With files from Maritime Noon

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