John Abbott College ceremony honours veterans, teaches kids
John Abbott College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue on Thursday hosted its 13th annual Remembrance Day to honour military veterans, especially those who lost their lives in war.
Their students, as well as ones from McGill University’s Macdonald campus, Macdonald High School, Edgewater and Saint-Patrick elementary schools, participated.
It was also a learning opportunity for the students, but the ceremony was even more poignant for college director general John Halpin. As he watched the elementary school kids plant small paper Canadian flags at a monument in honour of fallen soldiers, he fears one day someone may be planting flags and poppies in their memory.
“Even though we know that war is not the answer, it keeps coming back,” he says.
Just inside the Raymond Building across the street at the McGill University Macdonald campus is a reminder of the cost of war. There stands a memorial to the war dead, some of whom are students from the old Macdonald College, who served in both World Wars. It drives home the horrors and he says, by teaching kids about war, they also learn that it’s not the answer.
“Hopefully, when they are the leaders of tomorrow, they won’t make those kinds of decisions and they will try to find the avenues of peace that mankind so far has not been able to achieve,” he tells Global News.
Some students were moved by the experience. Eleven-year-old Zack Lacoste, a Grade 6 student at Edgewater who was the first to plant one of the hundreds of small flags, says he’s grateful for the sacrifice of soldiers who never returned home.
“I feel sorry for all the families who lost someone that they loved in a war,” he says.
Others say they worry they might end up going to war.
“I’m really scared about that,” says Lacoste’s classmate, 11-year-old Miranda Lyn. “It gives me anxiety when I think about that in the future, because I don’t know if World War 3 is gonna happen.”
Halpin says he cries sometimes when he watches the students at the ceremonies. He hopes eventually there’ll be less need for ceremonies like this.