Beaverbrook Vimy Prize Blog – August 18 & 19, 2015

The ceremonies at Dieppe were much different than any of the ones that I have seen at home. There were important figures from multiple countries, ranging from members of the Canadian Legion, to mayors, to veterans. The crowds were diverse as well. People of all ages were there, which I found to be very comforting. The knowledge of the sacrifices the soldiers of WWII made will not be lost with the generations directly affected by the war. Their memories will live on.

This morning, and yesterday evening, the Vimy Scholars had the honour of participating in the ceremonies at Dieppe. During this occasion, we had the opportunity to meet and converse with veterans, present wreaths, and even to read the Youth’s Commitment to Remember. I feel that it is very important to have youth involved in these ceremonies to show that we feel the relevance of these ceremonies, and to preserver the tradition of remembrance.

The commitment to remember is not simply a decision to remember those who have fought and died for our freedom in the past. It is instead a lifelong obligation to preserve and pass on the memory of these brave veterans to those around us. As youth ambassadors for the Vimy Foundation, we have been given the honour and the privilege to participate in many remembrance ceremonies that have truly impressed upon me that it is our duty to preserve their memory. Our walks through the battlefields and cemeteries have given us a unique outlook on the cost of war, and its modern relevance, equipping us with the necessary tools needed to continue to remind of the war and its terrible cost. In the future (both immediate and distant), it will be our obligation to spread our unique outlook and preserve the relevance of the war to all, especially the youth. To many youth, war is a distant and far off event that is often difficult to comprehend.
Yet, the ceremonies at Dieppe have shown me that although it is a distant event, there are still people from all walks of life that care to remember. As I stated before, there were many people at the ceremonies. There were people representing the Canadian Legion, soldiers and veterans, and mayors and other dignitaries there. Their ages ranged from young children to seniors. All of these people, no matter their age, seemed to understand the significance of what was happening. It is apparent that the act of remembering the sacrifices of the soldiers is very important to all of these people, as well as honouring the countries which they come from. I had expected to hear the French national anthem, but not the many others which included the American, Belgian, French, British, and Canadian anthems.

We, the youth of today, must take it upon ourselves to take up the torch of remembrance. Only through us will the stories of the soldiers be passed on. Through this trip, I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we now realize just how important it is to remember the stories, and just how much of an opportunity we have. There are still veterans left today, but they are becoming fewer and fewer as the days and years go by.
As Youth Ambassadors of the Vimy Foundation, we have had many unique opportunities on this trip. This was once again the case during the remembrance ceremonies in Dieppe. We were given the responsibility of being the honour guard during the evening vigil, had the honour of presenting wreaths at two out of the three ceremonies that we attended, and two of us were given the opportunity to say the Youth’s Commitment to Remember during the ceremony. I was one of the two people chosen to say the Youth’s Commitment to Remember. I have spoken at Remembrance Day ceremonies in the past at home, but I found these ceremonies to be very different.
This is something that is not understood enough, especially among the younger generations. These wars are just old stories to them, but that isn’t how it should be. Too often it is only the older generations who were directly, affected by the wars and the battles, that attend these ceremonies. That is why I was glad to see young people there, other than just our group. These young people will keep their history relevant. Having spoken with the veterans, I feel as if they would agree with me on that as well. They seemed all too happy to talk to us, about any subjects that we wanted to discuss. I think that they just want to see that their stories are not forgotten. Meeting and talking with the veterans was very interesting.

After this trip, I know that there are sixteen passionate individuals who will do their best to preserve the torch of remembrance. We have visited the battlefields, seen the results of the sacrifices made by the soldiers, and listened to the stories of the veterans. I can say that while working to spread and preserve the traditions of remembrance won’t always be easy, it will definitely be worth the time and effort. The soldiers died for us; the least we can do is to remember them.
– Derrin