Soil from Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach donated to Billings museum

To the Expositor:

On November 11, at a Remembrance Day ceremony in the Kagawong Park Centre, students from Manitoulin Secondary School gave a slide show about a spring field trip they had taken to historic European battlefields where Canadians had fought in the past. At the end of their presentation I was given a momento of their trip. It was from the students to the board of the Kagawong Cenotaph. The momento was two small bottles of sand and soil—one from Vimy Ridge and one from Juno Beach.

The Kagawong Cenotaph Board held a meeting on November 14 where it was decided to donate the soil to the Billing Museum in Kagawong, except for a small portion which in the spring will be sprinkled on our Cenotaph flower plot. An appropriate marker commemorating the donation has been ordered and will be attached to the Cenotaph stone.

When I approached the dias to receive the gift from the students, thunderous, sustained applause erupted from the audience. I was overwhelmed. I teared up, my throat lumped up and I was barely able to speak and say thanks to the students.

Since that service, I have pondered the applause. I know it was not me that triggered that response. I think the members of the audience realized either consciously or subconsciously that the MSS students, in a very positive way, had answered the challenge from Lieutenant Colonel McCrae: “To you from failing hand we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.”

I think the students took the torch and raised, it high over their heads for all to see. Every year on Remembrance Day we see rituals, which we treasure, being performed by people whom we admire, respect and honour and every year the performers get a year older. This year, we saw the youthful participation of the Sea Cadets and the symbolic “torch bearing” of the students. We realize the old traditions will continue and the future is in very capable hands.

We were proud of our youth. We clapped in appreciation.

Thank you,
Peter Fletcher
and the Kagawong Cenotaph Board
Ron Young, Lillian Boyd, Dianne Fraser Rick Nelson, Carol Pierce