Earlier this week I had the great pleasure to be the guest speaker at a local elementary school’s Remembrance Day service. As usual the children did a fabulous job, as they did in all the schools I went to this week.
While I didn’t use script, here is a rough transcript of what I remember sharing with the students…
Good morning everyone. Thanks for letting me share with you today. This is one of my most favourite weeks of the year, and I know it is for our Legion members too. It’s the week we get to go to all the schools and see all the great things you have put together to remember the important sacrifices men and women have made so we can enjoy our freedom.
You know what? I love my bed. It’s soft. It’s got nice warm blankets. It’s got fluffy pillows. Do you love your beds? I bet you do. Do you think soldiers had nice beds to sleep in? There are some really nice hotels over in Europe, do you think they got to stay in them? No, of course not. Where did they sleep? That’s right, they slept in tents, or ditches, wherever they could.
Last night I had pizza for supper. It was sooo good. Do you guys like pizza? Do you think they got to eat pizza during the war? No, somedays they didn’t get very much to eat at all. Somedays all they had was a little piece of chocolate to get them through.
What about the bathroom? Do you think we want to talk about what sort of bathroom they had in the war? No, I don’t think we want to go there.
And when it’s rainy I get out my big umbrella. Did they have big colourful umbrellas in the war? No, that’s right, they didn’t. They had to be out in all kinds of weather. The hot summer days, the freezing winter nights. We’re they out there for just a couple days at a time? No, they were out there for weeks, months, even years at a time, fighting in all kinds of weather. Does this sound like a lot of fun? They went through a lot to fight for our freedom, so this is why we love to remember and give our thanks to our veterans, and to those who are still fighting for peace in the world.
Do you guys have heroes? People you really look up to and admire?
Do you know who my hero is? My hero is my grandfather. He’s 87 and fought in the war. Now he’s never told me any stories from the war and I know he really doesn’t like to talk about it at all. This tells me that he has seen and done things that still bother him today. Lots and lots of veterans don’t like to talk about war because of the things they have had to see and do which they hope no one else will ever have to do. They come home and have nightmares for years and years. Doing the things they had to do in the war kind of breaks them. A lot of them aren’t the same anymore because of what they saw. And they did this to help protect people. They did it so we would have our freedom here today. This is why our veterans are real heroes.
War usually starts with someone, or a group of people, who think they are better than someone else. I know you’ve been talking about bullies in your classes lately, and it’s sort of like a bully. World War II started when someone thought they were better than someone else, and decided he would get rid of all those other people. So he built a huge army, and they did horrible things to millions of good people. And they started to attack other countries who were different too. So we had to go to war to stop them from doing these things. The rest of the world stood up and said, “We’re not going to let you be a bully any more, and we’re going to stop you.” We had to fight back, there was no other way. Too many people were getting hurt, and it had to be stopped.
There’s a story in the Bible I’d like to share with you. Once a group of people found a woman doing something they saw as wrong, they really didn’t like what she was doing, so they were going to punish her. They dragged her through the streets, and when they saw Jesus they pushed her down in front of him and said, “This woman has done a very bad thing, and we’re going to punish her for it!”
They started to pick up rocks to throw at her, when Jesus said, “Yes, maybe she has done something wrong. So if you want to punish her, the person here who has never done anything wrong can be the first to throw their rock.” And he stooped down and started to write in the dirt.
The people who were going to throw their rocks started to think about what he said. And everyone realized they had also done something wrong. So one by one, they dropped their rocks and walked away.
When everyone was gone, Jesus stood up and asked the woman where everyone went. She said they had all left. Jesus said to her, “And you go too, and don’t do anything wrong again.”
Earlier on this morning, one of the classes told us we carry peace within us. We do don’t we? We all carry peace within us.
So when someone tells us we’re wrong, or we’re different, or starts to pick on someone who’s different, we can share that peace. We can put an end to the fighting in our schools. We can help one another because none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes, we’re all different. That’s what’s wonderful about who we are, we’re all different. Some of us are good at sports, some at music, some at math or reading, we all have something we’re good at. We’re all special.
We can all make a difference in our schools or in our town. We can all help bring a little bit of peace to where we are. And when you grow up, you can continue to bring peace to in our country and in our world.
We remember what has happened in the past. We remember the sacrifices our veterans made, and also those still being made by our soldiers who are still fighting for peace.
So thank you, thank you, thank you for all your wonderful work you’ve done in getting ready for today. For your songs, your poems, your pictures and murals, thank you all for remembering our heroes, those who fought for our freedom. Thank you!