Island students honour veterans with No Stone Left Alone ceremony
'This is a personal thing between a student and a deceased veteran'
On a blustery fall Friday, students from Eliot River Elementary School gathered at Sherwood Cemetery in Charlottetown to remember those who have served Canada.
During the No Stone Left Alone ceremony, students heard and met military veterans and officers and participated in a presentation of wreaths along with a moment of silence for the fallen.
"If it weren't for them to like sacrifice or going to war, we wouldn't have this place to call home," said student Jace Larter.
"These people fought for the war and for our freedom," said student Marshall Campbell. "If it weren't for them we wouldn't have never gotten peace."
The annual event educates students about the importance of recognizing the service and sacrifice of Canada's military.
Pay their respects
Last year, more than 9,000 students visited 105 cemeteries and honoured nearly 60,000 veterans across the country.
"This is a personal thing between a student and a deceased veteran as opposed to staying on the same street watching a parade and watching someone else lay a wreath," said Eric Goodwin, organizer and retired brigadier-general. "These kids get a chance to find veterans' graves, learn about them and pay their respects."
Students were invited to find a headstone, place a poppy at it, then take a moment to think of the sacrifice of the soldier whose name they read on it.
They said they've learned a lot from this experience.
No one is forgotten
"It felt really nice because we were doing something nice to those people that fought for us," Brandon Blanchard said.
"I knew that it was real and I felt bad for them when some of them died," said Jessie Stewart.
Organizers hope each student will spend some time reflecting on their visit when they return to their classroom.
"Some of them, when they come through it's amazing, because they actually have family members that are buried here," Chief Warrant Officer Bill Crabb said. "Some will shed a tear, some, you know, they just do that minute of silence sort of thing and I do think it has some meaning to them, I really do."
There will be two more No Stone Left Alone ceremonies next week.
Students from École François-Buote will attend a service Monday at 9:30 a.m. at Sherwood Cemetery.
On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., students from Elm Street Elementary School will take part in a ceremony at St. Paul's Roman Catholic Cemetery in Summerside.
A growing movement in P.E.I. to ensure no one is forgotten.
"We've got a lot of students come to these events who've never been in a cemetery before," Goodwin said. "A lot of them are new Canadians. We had some one year that didn't even speak English. So, it's a real, real eye-opener for them and it's something that as long as the students want to come and do it — and the teachers want to bring them — we'll do what we can to help them."
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