Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Remembrance Day Liturgy at Holy Trinity School

I was recently blessed to get an invitation from the Holy Trinity principal, Lucy Moore, to attend the Remembrance Day Liturgy.  As I drove over to the newest member of the Catholic School Family, Holy Trinity, this morning I must admit I was seriously looking forward to it.  I walked into the front doors and headed into the office to find out where exactly the Liturgy would be taking place.  I am greeted by the Theatre/Business Manager, Ms. Loraine Humphrey, who both welcomed me and reminded me to get  my poppy...which are conveniently placed on the counter in the school's office, to which I promptly in put my loonies and take a poppy...then guided me to the gym.

As I walk into the gym I immediately know that things are going to be a bit different than the usual Remembrance Day Liturgy as I spot the school band set up at the front of the gym.  I am escorted to my seat by vice-principal/ city councilor, Sheldon Germain.  As I wait for it to begin, Lucy comes up to let me know that we have a guest of honour that is also seated up front; a World War 2 Veteran.  Immediately I go over to talk to him.  I introduce myself and let him know how honoured I am that he has come to the school's Liturgy.  We talk for a short time and then I find myself squeaking out a choked up Thank You as I begin to thank him for the sacrifices made for us.  I can't finish much more than that so I  retreat back to my seat to compose myself.  The Liturgy hasn't even started yet and I am already in tears.  Resigned to fact that I am going to cry at some point I fish into the bottom of my purse to find some Kleenex and sit down.
The children start to fill the gym and I hear "Hello, Ms. McKinnon." I look around and I see a child that was at my son's old school walking by.  I smile and say hello back, to which I see her hit the other student she is walking with on the arm and say with knowledgeable authority....That's Ms. McKinnon. As I look around the room and notice many students that I know from my years of volunteering in the school district.  It is nice to see them again. They have all grown and matured so much over the summer. They are turning into amazing young adults.
We all turn to the front of the gym as the Liturgy began with the mournful sound of the horn. Soon the Holy Trinity band sets the tone of the Liturgy by playing Amazing Grace.  The sound of bagpipes at the back of the gym announced to all of those present that the Honour Guard, Flag Bearer, cadets, Gospel Bearer, and our guest of honour are making their way to the front of the gym. The Liturgy is a moving ceremony that is the perfect blend of Catholicity, Fine Arts and Respectful Remembrance.  There is an interpretative dance by a group of students, the powerful voice of a student accompanied by a pianist and the drama students that materialized from the stands to enact the tragedy of loss, prayers offered up to God in Remembrance, a PowerPoint presentation that has students voices fading in about the importance of the sacrifices made, and a dramatic presentation of the Flanders's Field poem. At more than one point throughout the one hour Liturgy I struggled to get my emotions under control and the Kleenex that I had earlier retrieved was put to good use. When I turned to leave the gym I noticed that I was not alone.  Many of the parents, staff and students in attendance today were wiping tears from their eyes.  This was by far the most thought provoking, emotional and beautiful Remembrance Day ceremony I have ever had the honour to attend. 
On my way out I stopped to talk to our honoured guest from the Liturgy.  We talked about the Liturgy and how wonderful it was.  He was very impressed with the quiet respect of entire the student body, and how artful the Liturgy had been.  Then he said something that brought back the stark reality of Remembrance Day and why we had gathered that day in the gym; " I fought in the war so these children would not have to.  I was in the war to end all wars, and still today we fight and send our young people to die.  Why can't we learn?" 

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