Poppy poem earns P.E.I. student trip to Ottawa

A student from Bluefield High School in North Wiltshire, P.E.I., has won an opportunity to lay a wreath at the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa on Saturday.

'It's a little nerve-wracking ... people will be watching on television'

Beth Kirby will represent Canada's youth when she lays a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day. (CBC)

A student from Bluefield High School in North Wiltshire, P.E.I., has won an opportunity to lay a wreath at the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa on Saturday.

Beth Kirby wrote the winning poem, What a Poppy Brings to Mind, for the Royal Canadian Legion's annual Poster and Literacy contest. It was open to all students in public schools in Canada. 

"I have stuff about nightmares, the loss of home and the loss of mental stability — I wanted to put in stuff that alluded to PTSD and the destruction that is left from war," Kirby said in an interview with CBC News: Compass host Louise Martin. 

"But I also wanted to talk about the hope afterward, and that you can rebuild and you can always find ...  a silver lining, and you always want to look for that."

On Nov. 11, the Grade 11 student on behalf of Canada's youth will place a wreath at the National War Memorial. She will also meet Julie Payette, Canada's new Governor General.

"It's a little nerve-wracking ... people will be watching on television!" Kirby said. "But it's also a great honour and really exciting." 

'The pain that lingers'

Kirby said she is interested in studying psychology and neuroscience after graduating from high school, which led her to think of soldiers suffering mentally. 

Kirby's poem will also be read at the opening of the Canadian Passchendaele memorial garden in France on Thursday. 

Kirby's poem, What a Poppy Brings to Mind, touches on the destruction of war, but also the hope afterward. (Victoria Dinh/CBC )

Here is Beth Kirby's poem: What A Poppy Brings To Mind.

When I pin the red flower above my heart

I think of the meaning it holds heavy on my chest

I think of those who volunteered their futures for their country

All of them with different motivations, but all with one goal and purpose

I think about sacrifice, about humanity and the loss of it

I think about unmarked graves that do no justice to those buried in them

I think about a mother's tears and a father's anguish

I think about the fading memories a little brother has of his greatest role model

I think about the pain that lingers even when they come back

The inability to enjoy fireworks on days of celebration

The nightmares of gunfire and the brothers and sisters in arms that they lost

The feeling of being abandoned by the country that they served

I think about the loss of home and family

The destruction of nations and the ruins that are left

But that's not all I think about

I think about joyous reunions and letters full of hope and love

I think about rehabilitation and healing

About reconstruction that's stronger than before

I think about reconciliation and peace

About giving forgiveness and being forgiven

I think that we are stronger than before

That we have taken the broken pieces and made something beautiful

I think about the respect that I have for those who know and have seen more than I have

I think about speeches that bring tears to our eyes

I think about the lessons that we should learn and ones that we already have

But most of all I think about how incredibly thankful I am and will continue to be

These thoughts flood my head and they will stick with me even when I'm not wearing this black-eyed poppy

With files from Louise Martin