Mitch Whittle of Virden is in the news for the second week in a row. Last week, the 17 year old appeared in the pages of the Empire-Advance after his essay won at the provincial level of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2019 Literary Contest - Senior Essay.
His and the other winning entries then went for judging at the national level of competition and he won again.
His writing placed third among all Canada-wide entries right behind Gina Spencer of Corner Brook, NL, and Jacob Perreault of Baie Comeau, PQ.
The contest invited essays, poetry and posters on a Remembrance Day theme. National entries were judged at the Legion’s Dominion Command in Ottawa.
Whittle is a Grade 12 student at Virden Collegiate. Many of his family members have been involved in the Armed Forces and the Legion over the years.
His winning essay is below.
Remembrance Day Essay
By Mitch Whittle
Canadian Remembrance Day, the day that recognizes all Canadians that went to war. We recognize this day to remember all those that lost their lives in the line of duty. The ceremonies of Remembrance Day happen on November 11 at 11:00 a.m. The ceremonies include two minutes of silence, the playing of The Last Post, and the recital of In Flanders Fields.
A symbol of this special day is to wear a poppy. The poppy helps represent all those that took part in war. This significant flower was the flower that grew on the battlefields after the end of World War One. People proudly wear these poppies on the days leading up to and on November 11.
I believe that the importance of this day is something that should be remembered for years to come and should be taught to all people that may have not directly been affected by the way. Honouring these men and women that fought in the war for each one of us, by attending the ceremonies and wearing a poppy, is a very small token compared to what they gave to us. The freedom that we get to experience today is all thanks to the individuals that sacrificed so much all those years ago.
I have no direct remembrance of the days of the war but I have been told stories that affected the days of my grandmother and great-grandmother. My great-grandfather took part in World War II. This war last from 1939-1945. I did not realize the sacrifices that he made for his country. He left to go to war with five children at home and his wife expecting the sixth child. That sixth child was my grandmother. My great-grandfather did not get to see his little girl for about the first three years of her life.
We also have to stop and think about the injuries that happen to those that are there and the effect that they have. My great-grandfather was injured in the battle while at war. After the war ended, he had to spend a couple of years in recovery at the Deer Lodge Hospital in Winnipeg. He had injured his wrist to the point that he was unable to move it. His wrist joint was gone and from that day on, he was unable to move his wrist. So having to stay at the Lodge also separated him from his family for a length of time. You see, I believe we don’t truly understand what these families went through during this time. These families, not only mine, gave up far more than we can even imagine.
If we were to sit back and think about how it was for my great-grandfather being separated from his wife and children for all that time, we would truly be in awe of his sacrifice. And the sacrifice was not only on those that went to war but for the family that were left here to keep things running. My great-grandmother worked the farm and raised the children all on her own until his return. That alone is a huge sacrifice.
We are very fortunate today to be able to experience the things in life that we can. We have never had to face war. We have never had to make such huge sacrifices. But in all honesty, do we realize what took place for us to get here? Are we all just a bit guilty of taking for granted what we have gained in place of what others have lost? Would it be that hard for us to take the time on this day to remember all those that battled for us? Can we proudly wear that poppy on the days leading up to this significant day? Can we attend these special services held to show our gratitude?
It starts with us. Choosing to respect. Choosing to honour.
Let us not forget but let us choose to REMEMBER!!