The kids are alright. That’s the message I want you to take away from this Remembrance Day column.
And that makes my heart proud.
I had the pleasure of being welcomed into two primary schools over the past two weeks – Victoria Cross Public School in Mount Forest and St. Mary Catholic School in Elora – to talk about their efforts to honour veterans on Remembrance Day.
I was sincerely moved to see the way children are being taught the gratitude and respect owed to a generation they may never meet, with the empathy for a sacrifice they cannot possibly comprehend.
But they understand the power of peace and the luxury of freedom.
What I learned is the kids are alright and we have teachers and educational assistants to thank for that.
And yes, that was a political joust at the provincial government. I stand by it. As a mother of an autistic child, I promise you, educational assistants are underpaid and underappreciated. Investing in them is investing in our children and our collective future.
Ontario can do better.
When our children were little, the Carpenter and I talked about Remembrance Day and shared stories of our grandparents, who fought in World Wars. Grandpa Gary is a veteran of the Canadian Navy and Uncle Jim was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces.
We wanted our children to feel a personal connection to these relatives. We wanted to instill our values of respect and remembrance, because we knew how fortunate we were to have known these men and women.
Those lessons begin at home.
As working parents, we usually couldn’t attend Remembrance Day services with our children. Yet both of our children, throughout their education, participated in Remembrance Day assemblies, attended cenotaph services in our town, and were introduced to veterans of past and present in their classrooms.
I found that every year, as their comprehension of the world broadened, our children came home with a greater understanding of the history we don’t want to repeat.
What I learned is my kids were alright, and we had teachers and educational assistants to thank for that.
But I’m also a student of Canadian history and I’m fully aware that as times are evolving, so too is our view of history, bringing forth voices that have been missed or ignored.
History evolves as we learn and shift perspectives.
We have so much yet to uncover and that’s exciting to me. Voices yet to be heard. Stories yet to uncover. Lessons not to repeat. Resources at our fingertips.
I hope the next generation keeps seeking these stories out and bringing them to light.
Talking to these educators in both of Wellington County’s school boards, I assure you, the next generation is being taught the values of respect, gratitude, honour and the price of peace. You know who to thank.
The torch is being passed.
They will remember.
Lest we forget.