Veterans need to know that the youth today have not forgotten the sacrifices they made.
For this reason, Maple Ridge writer Joe Robinsmith endeavoured to include more children in this year's Honouring Our Veterans poetry contest held in conjunction with The TIMES.
Engagement was achieved, said Robinsmith, noting that there were six youth entries in the competition's inaugural run last year. By contrast, this year the kids entries exceeded 40, and were of such a high calibre, that judges were forced to pick five rather than three winners in the age five to 12 category.
In fact, contest participation overall was almost double last year, with about 80 poems submitted into this competition.
Webster's Corners Elementary teacher Erin Kieneker, for instance, submitted 17 entries on behalf of her Grade 6-7 students.
They made a class assignment out of it. Kieneker saw the poem contest as a way to share her passion for writing, and specifically poetry, while engaging the children in a look at war.
The children were asked to brainstorm about veterans, then asked to hunt out powerful images that could help motivate and inspire their writing.
She's so impressed with the results and the participation and interest of the children in the subject, that she's hoping to make involvement in the poetry contest an annual project.
Five of her students also put together video presentations that, along with their poems, will be shared during the school's Remembrance Day assembly on Thursday morning.
The same goes for the works of a few Grade 4-5 students at Albion Elementary class.
Teacher Michelle Lockhart is new to the school and teaching, and just after learning she was responsible for teaching a poetry curriculum, she heard of the veteran poetry competition and thought the fit was ideal.
"I thought it would be a great way to introduce free verse poetry while opening the lines of classroom communication for an important topic," Lockhart said.
In addition to penning their own poems, her students also studied and choral read John McCrae's legendary Remembrance Day poem, In Flanders Field.
"I think it is important to not only create new poetry, but to read and reread well-known poetry," Lockhart said, noting the class will be presenting that during their school's assembly, also being held Thursday.
"I believe Remembrance Day is an important discussion to have with students as war is still very much a part of everyday life for people in many countries. Being in a safe and peaceful country, I think it can be easy to forget about both the current and past wars, however, it is important to learn from the past and not forget tragedies that have occurred," said Lockhart, who confirmed more than 20 of her students' poems were entered.
The contest organizer, Robinsmith, concurs. That's why he approached school superintendent Jan Unwin earlier this year, and was grateful for her participation in spreading the word about the poetry contest and encouraging participation.
"The soldiers returning from these conflicts need to be held up as the heroes that they truly are, giving up their lives and sometimes their sanity for a country that does not show its appreciation. There are no ticker tape parades for these men and women. The youth of our communities need to be able to show that all of our soldiers are remembered, appreciated, and held up as heroes for protecting the peace of the world," he said.
"Without the youth remembering or really displaying that appreciation, our veterans will slowly pass into the history books and the current soldiers will never understand how much we need them."
The deadline for the poetry contest has passed, but it's not all over, just yet. The contest culminates with a public reading on Remembrance Day.
Entrants are encouraged to attend, and the winners will be announced, during a ceremony in The ACT lobby from 1 to 2 p.m. on Nov. 11.
Spectators and visitors alike are asked to bring a donation for the Friends In Need Food Bank.
The ACT lobby
11944 Haney Pl., Maple Ridge From 1 to 2 p.m.
Winners will be announced and entrants are invited to read.