It is my intention tonight to replace my Superintendent’s Report with a dedication to ‘Remembrance Day’ 2009. Since this theme involves every one of our 16,000 students, 32,000 guardians & parents and the entire communities of Cape Breton Municipality and Victoria County, the Board’s report and the student-parent’s report will be woven into one.
The original purpose of ‘Remembrance Day’ was to honor those soldiers who were killed in World War 1. Subsequently, it came to honor all of those who gave their lives in wars that involved the Canadian Government.
It is altogether fitting that we pause in our labor on this special day to remember, each of us in his or her own way, those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in the service of this country.
We take time to think of those who died in the service of their nation.
However, let us remember not only those who died, but those who lived, while the giving of one’s life is the “last full measure of devotion”, those who came home from the wars also deserve our grateful thanks and the salute of their fellow countrymen.
“Memory” said Ceireo, “is the treasury and guardian of all things”. Praising what is lost said Shakespeare “makes the remembrance dear”. We have met on November 11th and days prior to the 11th in that spirit. We gathered to treasure and praise those who have been lost to us and thereby to make the memory even more meaningful.
Different people have different ways to memorialize and remember those who have preceded us to the ultimate reward.
Some build monuments of stone or a statuary; some erect shrines; some keep the shrines in their hearts. In ancient times, the pharos built their own memorials, which to us today may seem to be a strange and morbid thing to do. Pyramids and tombs, for all their awesome grandeur, are very impersonal, but every human being leaves another memorial of his or her own creation. It is the impact of their lives on these people who follow.
The functions we have experienced this past month have renewed our memory of the impact on our lives of those whose journey through life preceded ours. We are reminded now of what that journey left behind.
There are few of us who have been untouched by the scars of war. We all have had someone who lost his or her life in a conflict or was injured or maimed in wars. Perhaps it was a father, mother, uncle, aunt, brother or sister. Perhaps there are those who will read this report who bear personal scars of war. Whatever the case, we are all touched by it in some way.
In these cases, which are so personal that they are held within the secret places of the heart, it is often difficult to gain perspective, since the loss is so close, so costly. Therefore, it remains for the rest of us to put into words, on an occasion such as this, exactly what we feel for those who have given so much in order that the rest of us may breathe free air and live on a free land.
We are told that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friend. If that is true, then we are faced with an abundance of love today. We speak of men and women who were not anxious to die, who loved life, who wanted homes and families and the good and wholesome things that life has to offer.
As much as they loved life, however, they loved an idea more - the idea that their children should live free, in a free land, under the blessings of democracy.
They realized that the price of freedom is vigilance and that freedom must be defended from those forces of oppression that would take it from us. Because of that belief and dedication, they went when they were called - they went to defend this land and protect their families and the families of those who would come after them. They fought in defense of what they held dear, and they gave their lives in order that others might live.
As they gave us that gift of love, let us return that love today. In our thoughts, in our hearts and in our prayers, let us remember them and honor their sacrifice.
Let us also resolve that this honor shall not be on a single day of the year, not only in the light of ceremony, but on each and every day of the year. Let us remember their love, remember their dedication to ideals of democracy, remember their hopes for our future and remember the sacrifice that they made for us. Let us remember and be proud.
In respect to Remembrance Day of 2009, I have a particular suggestion to make to the veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces. Tonight I suggest we all extend to them a special courtesy. I propose that we salute them and they don’t have to salute back.
In our schools this November 2009, we again paid honor to our veterans. Many of the services in our schools expanded upon this theme. A special thank you to all of our schools, veterans who took time to be present at our school services, and to the staff and children who made the ‘Remembrance Day’ 2009 a successful venture.
Again, it was thought provoking to see the participation of our armed forces cadets, along with the youth scouts who were so prevalent in the stage production of the ‘Remembrance Day’ theme.
The schools of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board know how to preserve a memory and had made the ‘Remembrance Day’ services a success.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to direct your attention, and that of the board members and staff, to read the comments from our school principals that are forwarded to you as Board Chair and are placed on our Board’s Website (www.cbv.ns.ca). These items represent the awards, achievements and successes of our students and staff within the boundaries of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. Again, I ask the Principals to ensure that the Board Chair is kept abreast of these important communications.
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