Remembrance is personal at All Hallows
The sacrifice of soldiers like Cpl. Jamie Murphy not forgotten by students, staff at North River school
Kearsty Ryan said it’s not always easy to understand why young men and women are asked to sacrifice so much during times of armed conflict.
But she noted it helps to have a personal connection to someone who has.
Ryan was referring to her uncle, Cpl. Jamie Murphy, a Conception Harbour native who was killed in Afghanistan on Jan. 26, 2004.
Murphy was the first Newfoundland-born soldier killed in the conflict. A member of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, Murphy was just 26 at the time.
Since his death nearly a decade ago at the hands of a suicide bomber, Murphy’s legacy has lived on at All Hallows Elementary in North River, where a special series of awards are handed out in his name, and an extravagant play park was built in his honour last summer.
During the school’s Remembrance ceremony on Nov. 6, Kearsty spoke about her uncle’s sacrifice, the impact his death had on her life, and the gratitude she feels towards those — her uncle included — who did something extraordinary in the service of their country.
She also offered heartfelt appreciation on behalf of her family to the students and staff at All Hallows for helping preserve the memory of her uncle.
“He is not just family to me, but to all of us now,” stated Kearsty, who lives in Georgetown. “I know he watches over everyone, everyday, especially in the beautiful play park.
“I couldn’t be more proud for what you all do, and continue to do,” she added.
She asked the several hundred people in attendance, including Legion members, members of the clergy, family and friends, to be grateful for what we have, and to never forget the ones we lost.
“We may not understand the sacrifice, but we all now know someone who did” make the ultimate sacrifice, Kearsty added, referring to her uncle.
The Murphy family was well-represented at the ceremony. Cpl. Murphy’s mother, Alice, along with his his two sisters, Rosemary Ryan and Norma Murphy, were among those on hand.
But it was left to Kearsty, Rosemary’s daughter and former student at All Hallows, to speak on behalf of the family.
She said as each Remembrance Day passes, it’s become more important that she not only remember the sacrifices, but also the lives of those who served.
“It’s days like today I know everything he did, everything he showed me, was worth it,” she explained. “In this school we remember every day. We do it, but we may not even notice.”
The conflict in Afghanistan has largely disappeared from the headlines as Canada’s combat role has ended, but hundreds of Canadians still serve in a training role in the country.
Some 158 Canadians were kil led in Afghanistan, the highest number of any single Canadian mission since the Korean War.
As such, the conflict was featured prominently in the ceremony at All Hallows.
For example, the lyrics to a well-known American song called “Travellin’ Soldier,” which was sung by the elementary choir, was tweaked to give it a uniquely Canadian flavour.
Meanwhile, the ceremony in North River was one of many held at schools in the region last week.
All Hallows principal Kevin Giles said it’s a time of year that we “remember all the wonderful things we have because somebody paid the supreme sacrifice.”
Kearsty Ryan, the niece of fallen soldier Cpl. Jamie Murphy, spoke on behalf of the Murphy family at the All Hallows remembrance ceremony.
Members of the All Hallows elementary choir sing a song called “Travellin’ Soldier.”
Sea cadet Madison Butt was among those taking part in the ceremony.
Three members of the Royal Canadian Legion were on hand for the ceremony. There were, from left, Gilbert Noel (Carbonear), Ed Jackman (Makinsons) and Ernie Mugford (Clarke’s Beach).
The MCs for the Remembrance ceremony at All Hallows Elementary on Nov. 6 were, from left, Abby McCue, Madison Knee and Maya Petten.
Aleigha Gifford, a member of the All Hallows fiddlers group.