By Kate Butler Special to the Echo
Nov. 8 2016
Every year it seems that a debate takes place about Remembrance Day. I often hear people express fears that it’s no longer as important an occasion to young people as it should be as well as discussions about ways to make people more aware of this part of our history.
Earlier this week I had the delight of visiting with every class at J.D. Hodgson Elementary School to discuss a project to design banners for Dysart’s upcoming sesquicentennial. We talked about our township’s heritage and the role of farming logging and tourism in our story as well as the history of local buildings and the transportation that helped people travel to this beautiful corner of the world before cars became popular.
As we discussed possible material for their art projects one student asked me “Wasn’t there a regiment here?” I said that indeed there was and told the class a little bit about the story of the 109th Battalion which trained in Haliburton Village in preparation for combat in the First World War. This regiment was sent to Europe where men from Haliburton County and the surrounding areas fought side by side in defence of our country.
Talking with the students at JDH it dawned on me that during the era of both World Wars young people not much older than these boys and girls – in fact the age of the senior students at our high school – would have been preparing to go overseas to fight in defence of their country. As I wrapped up a session with one class and prepared to make my way out the door I found myself surrounded by a cluster of students all eager to share stories with me – stories of their great grandparents and their contributions during the Second World War. I heard incredible accounts of fighter pilots and tank battles as well as those who played a vital role on the home front. I was just so impressed by both the level of interest from these students and their incredible pride in the roles their families had played.
It’s incredibly encouraging to see not only that these accounts have been passed through our local families and schools but the degree to which the children have taken them to heart. It confirmed for me the continuing importance of Remembrance Day and the vital role it has to play as we mark anniversaries of the First and Second World War and also the sesquicentennials of both Dysart et al and of our country in 2017. We can never become complacent as the years go by. This Remembrance Day I encourage you to share stories to talk to our veterans and connect with our local history and historic sites. Lest we forget.