Remembrance Day address inspires students.
Beaver Brae Secondary School students were confronted head on with the choices they’ll have to make in the not-to-distant future during the annual Remembrance Day assembly organized by Todd Penner’s Grade 10 history class.
After the traditional music and stories were completed and the students stood for Last Post and two minutes of silence at 11 a.m., guest speaker and Canadian Army veteran Lt. Col. Dave Fraser spoke about the importance of choices.
“The students are the next generation of people who are going to be the voters and, God forbid, the soldiers who have to go [to war],” said Fraser. “They’re the ones who are going to have to make those hard choices as to the future of this country... like other soldiers have in the past.”
Fraser has traveled around the globe since 1977 with stops in Europe, Cypress, Africa and serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, mainly in peace-keeping missions, though that doesn’t mean the danger isn’t present on a daily basis.
Growing up in the Rainy River District, Fraser said it was “part of the family business” to join the Canadian Army.
“I’ve been shot at in a number of different places,” added Fraser. “It is not a video game, like Call of Duty, because when somebody dies next to you, you can’t press reset and start again. It’s permanent. It is terrifying. Any soldier who has been in combat will say it is terrifying.”
The fear though comes when the adrenalin rush wears off and a soldier is sitting alone on his bed with nothing but his or her own thoughts of what happened and what could happen, said Fraser. So if it’s so terrifying, why did Fraser and all the other soldiers do it and return over and over again to combat?
“Canadians have always stood up for what they believed is right and it’s up to every Canadian to be as informed as possible, to know that the choices we are looking at making are the right choices both for our country and for the planet,” said Fraser. To make sure we do the right thing, the way that all of those soldiers who have served, and in many cases paid the ultimate sacrifice, believed that they were doing the right thing.”
Plus, despite its problems and faults Canada is still one of the best places to live in the world - a lesson Fraser saw with his own eyes in his travels.
“Yes, our country isn’t perfect and yes there are problems and yes we have done things wrong in the past, but we have more potential here then any other place in this planet,” said Fraser. “It is up to us to decide whether or not we make the right choice for our country and make sure we make our country the best possible country it can be in the future.”
Many students in the audience of Grade 7-12ers were visibly fighting back tears after Fraser’s speech, perhaps thinking of a loved one who once served their country or knowing that the choice of what courses to take next semester may not be the most difficult choice they’ll face in life.
Tristin Weare, a Grade 10 student in Penner’s class, helped organize the assembly and said Fraser’s speech hit home because it reminded him of a time about seven years ago when his stepdad Todd Evans was overseas and how it impacted his mom, who was living in Winnipeg at the time.
“My mom was a little bit lonely and I supported her and everything, but at that time she was living away from me in Winnipeg so I wasn’t able to visit her as often,” said the 15 year old. “I believed he would make it back home, though at some points I was scared he might not make it and that did make me sad. I wanted him to be home and come back for supper and be with us.”
Weare called Fraser’s speech “powerful” and said it made him think about the choices he’ll soon be making with his life.
“I feel like I might go out to war, I wouldn’t like it of course, but I’d just want to help out my country and to make sure that I can say I did help, I wasn’t just staying at home and not doing anything,” said Weare.
Lt. Col. Dave Fraser spoke to Beaver Brae Secondary School students about choices during a Remembrance Day assembly, Friday, Nov. 10.