They numbered 305, those Old Boys who made the “supreme sacrifice” to serve Canada in the last century’s two world wars. And, in two services that mirrored the solemnity of the events they commemorated, both Prep and Upper School assemblies stood in silent respect, Nov. 7.
Six Old Boys who served in the Second World War and the Korean War attended the Prep service at 9:15 a.m. along with three alumni currently in the military. It focused on the four Old Boys killed during the western Allied forces invasion of Europe in 1944. Grade 7 students leading the services were Tucker McIntosh, Jamie Cleghorn, Adam Menikefs, Henry Gage, Alex Lawson, Sean Manucha, Cole Huszti, Liam Corelli, Zachary Dawood and Aaron Leung.
“Seeing the beaches of Normandy and visiting the Juno Beach Centre museum was inspirational,” said Menikefs, who was in France this past summer with his family and spent four days in Normandy. “Walking the grounds [the soliders] walked and learning about the dangers they faced gave me a clearer sense of empathy and understanding.”
At the Upper School, 20 Old Boy veterans attended the 10:30 a.m. service. IB2 student and head steward Andrew Callahan announced the processional of veterans. Principal Jim Power opened with a list of Old Boys who passed away recently, followed by a touching IB2 theatre performance. It focused on correspondence between Lionel Massey ’34, an injured prisoner of war in Athens, and his father.
If I wrote you whenever I thought of you I’d be doing nothing else,” wrote his father. “My love travels in the clouds moving east to west,” wrote his son.
Following this was an incredibly accomplished duet with IB2 student Sam Hodgkins-Sumner singing and playing electric guitar and head of Senior Division Scott Cowie singing “Father and Son” by Cat Stevens. As well, the BlueNotes performed “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” by Ralph Vaughan Williams and the symphonic band performed “Glory and Honour” by Bill Thomas.
After a formal recognition of the 20 veterans in attendance, complete with a standing ovation, James O’Reilly ’43 read John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” and the Last Post was played.
Everyone sang “God Save The Queen” before a piper led the veterans out of the hall. As is tradition, wreaths were laid in front of UCC’s memorials commemorating those who served in the two world wars. Then, veterans and students who took part in the ceremony attended a luncheon in the common room.
Principal Power spoke for the entire UCC community when he said, “Gentlemen we are grateful for your service and honoured by your presence here today.”