Tag Archives: Remembrance Day

Lest we forget

11 Nov

I shared this video on this day last year. It still makes me tear up.

When I was in grade 6, Mrs. MacMillan read us the story of Padre John Foote. She always called him that. She had  a detailed story that I have long sought, but never found. I would like to share the citation that was read when he was awarded the Victoria Cross,  the highest award of the United Kingdom honours system. It is awarded for gallantry “in the face of the enemy” to members of the British armed forces.

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DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE, OTTAWA.

14th February, 1946.

THE CANADIAN ARMY.

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: —

Honorary Captain John Weir FOOTE, Canadian Chaplain Services.

At Dieppe, on 19th August, 1942, Honorary Captain Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services, was Regimental Chaplain with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire he attached himself to the Regimental Aid Post which had been set up in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while the action continued, this officer not only assisted the Regimental Medical Officer in ministering to the wounded in the Regimental Aid Post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first-aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the Regimental Aid Post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honorary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts. During the action, as the tide went out, the Regimental Aid Post was moved to the shelter of a stranded landing craft. Honorary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. He also removed wounded from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells. When landing craft appeared he carried wounded from the Regimental Aid Post to the landing craft through very heavy fire.

On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years.

Honorary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic officer, as he walked about, collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten.

 

This week’s book talks

10 Nov

Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day in the US, but in my heart, it is still Remembrance Day. I’ve been wearing the poppy I knit last year on my school lanyard.

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Students had a three-day week, so I only book talked three books, all set during the Great War.

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Publisher’s Summary: The Great War is a powerful collection of stories by bestselling authors, each inspired by a different object from the First World War. From a soldier’s writing case to the nose of a Zeppelin bomb, each object illuminates an aspect of life during the war, and each story reminds us of the millions of individual lives that were changed forever by the four years of fighting. This remarkable book is illustrated by the Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Jim Kay. Featuring new work from: ** AL Kennedy ** Tracy Chevalier ** Michael Morpurgo ** David Almond ** Marcus Sedgwick ** Adele Geras ** Ursula Dubosarsky ** John Boyne ** Timothée de Fombelle ** Sheena Wilkinson ** Tanya Lee Stone **

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Publisher’s Summary: The day the First World War broke out, Alfie Summerfield’s father promised he wouldn’t go away to fight—but he broke that promise the following day. Four years later, Alfie doesn’t know where his father might be, other than that he’s away on a special, secret mission. Then, while shining shoes at King’s Cross Station, Alfie unexpectedly sees his father’s name on a sheaf of papers belonging to a military doctor. Bewildered and confused, Alfie realizes his father is in a hospital close by—a hospital treating soldiers with shell shock. Alfie isn’t sure what shell shock is, but he is determined to rescue his father from this strange, unnerving place. . . .

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Publisher’s Summary:  The Spanish influenza is devastating the East Coast—but Cleo Berry knows it is a world away from the safety of her home in Portland, Oregon. Then the flu moves into the Pacific Northwest. Schools, churches, and theaters are shut down. The entire city is thrust into survival mode—and into a panic.

Seventeen-year-old Cleo is told to stay put in her quarantined boarding school, but when the Red Cross pleads for volunteers, she cannot ignore the call for help. In the grueling days that follow her headstrong decision, she risks everything for near-strangers. Strangers like Edmund, a handsome medical student. Strangers who could be gone tomorrow. And as the bodies pile up, Cleo can’t help but wonder: when will her own luck run out?

 

“Eyes Right!”

11 Nov

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Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. Living in the US, I miss the traditional wearing of the poppy, so this year, I knit one I can reuse.

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The other traditions I miss are school assemblies of remembrance or going to the service that included laying wreaths at the cenotaph where I was guaranteed to hear a choir sing In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Parents of some of my friends fought in the Second World War. I remember seeing Mr Fournier tear up one year during our school assembly, as he stood erect, thumbs lined up with his pant seams, and the bugler played The Last Post. 

The two World Wars have almost become ancient history to the kids I teach. It is not so to all young people. Here  is video I’ve shared before. No matter how many times I see this little fellow dressed in a  Seaforth Highlanders of Canada uniform, I get teary-eyed.

 

 

 

Graphic History for Two Tuesdays

3 Nov

Tomorrow is election day in the United States and next Tuesday is Veteran’s Day in the US, Remembrance Day in Canada and other Commonwealth countries, and Armistice Day in France and Belgium. Interestingly, there is a new graphic novel to tie into each day.

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Sally Heathcote Suffragette by Mary M. Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot, follows the fortunes of a maid-of-all-work swept up in the feminist militancy of Edwardian Britain. Sally Heathcote is a working-class maid in turn-of-the-century Manchester, in service to Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the leaders of the British suffrage movement. telling the Suffragist story in a graphic novel is a stroke of brilliance because it really shows 21st century readers how hard women had to work to get the right to vote.

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In 1914, Canada went to war as a subject of Britain. In 1939, it made the choice to fight all on its own. Canada at War follows the developments and setbacks, wins and losses, of a nation learning to stand up for itself under the toughest possible conditions: in the midst of the most difficult war of the twentieth century.

With the cold weather and darker evenings, perhaps these are just the thing, along with a nice cup of tea, to enjoy on a blustery November night.

Lest We Forget

11 Nov

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In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae
I memorized this poem years ago, not on purpose, but through hearing it sung for years at Remembrance Day services in the community room above the arena in New Hamburg. We all wore poppies.  Tied in my memory with the song is the sound of the lone trumpeter playing The Last Post. I get teary eyed just thinking about it. I remember old man, standing straight, hands at their sides. Some had tears in their eyes, too.
This day was chosen because it was the day the armistice ending the First World War was signed. So I have a couple of lists today: my favorite Canadian novels of WWI and kid books about WWI.
My Favorite Canadian novels of WWI 
The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart
Three Day Road  by Joseph Boyden
Deafening by Frances Itani
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
The Wars  by Timothy Findley
 Children’s Books about WWI (fiction & non-fiction)
Truce  by Jim Murphy
War Horse  by Michael Morpurgo
Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo
Lord of the Nutcracker Men by Iain Lawrence
Knit Your Bit by Deborah Hopkinson
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
Soldier Dog by Sam Angus
And the Soldiers Sang  by J. Patrick Lewis
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