By Christina Dinh
November 11th, Richview held its Remembrance Day assembly. The assembly started off with introductions from hosts, Sarah Abbott and Malachi Fatogun.
Richview holds the assembly every year, but the focus this year in particular was on the experiences of soldiers during the second world war and the discrimination many of them fought after they returned home.
A video was played, The fight for Italy. It was mentioned that this year is the 75th anniversary of the Italian Campaign, which was a huge Canadian contribution to WWII; 92 000 Canadians had taken part.
Next, Alexa Di Matteo read the poem Remember Pontecorvo written by Captain P.J. Power, a Canadian soldier.
Another video played soon after on the life of Tommy Prince of the Ojibway Nation. Prince was a highly accomplished sergeant in a specialized assault team called the “Devil’s Brigade”. Prince’s life didn’t have a good ending, however, he will always be remembered as a hero in the eyes of the world.
After that, the first wreath bearer, Meg Johnstone, escorted by Cadet MacLaren Stevenson, came on stage. The first wreath is to honor those who served their country in the first and second World Wars.
One of the more interesting topics in the assembly came in the form of pop culture. The tone of the music and movies in that era were more optimistic; focused on romance, longing and loss. Many of these songs were swing and jazz, which were banned in Nazi Germany due to their African American roots. In a way, enjoying these songs was a rebellion against Hitler.
Natalie Munoz, accompanied by David Cojocaru on guitar sang Bye Bye Blackbird by Ella Fitzgerald, an absolute jazz legend.
Then, our very own vice-principal, Ms. Tuck came on stage to share the story of her family. It was a story of coincidences, life and death; an incredible journey. Her family was heavily involved in the military, which brought loss, but also an incredibly inspiring understanding.
“The stories themselves are not unique. The wars that have been fought, the wars that are being fought, have impacts that will long out last the final battle. The strength of those left behind to heal families and build new ones, to raise children to love and not hate, and to carry on even at what seems the darkest hour—those are the people, I remember today.”
During World War II, Black Canadians served alongside other soldiers in every aspect of the war effort. Despite their contributions, the discrimination in Canada post war still thrived. Hugh Burnett, a Black veteran, created the National Unity Association. The group protested with sit-ins at whites only restaurants, barbershops and pool halls during the early 50s. Through activism and advocacy, great change was made. As Malachi said,
“We also remember the veterans who fought against discrimination in Canada.”
Next came the second Remembrance day wreath, placed by Jonathan Vydelingum, escorted by Cadet Christina Celis. This wreath honors those who served their country in the Korean War, in peacekeeping missions and in Afghanistan.
Afterwards, the poem In Flanders Fields was read by Lamiah Karim.
The audience was asked to stand for a moment of silence, followed by Ana Downes playing The Last Post. Then, the Reveille and the National Anthem.
At the end of the assembly, the hosts read the Commitment to Remember and asked the audience to respond with “We will remember them.”
It’s our obligation and a privilege to remember the sacrifices that were made for our rights and freedom.
The assembly was incredibly well done and carried the proper tones, somber but still pleasant, in honour of our lost soldiers.