It’s tough to get energetic kids to stop and pause. But thousands did exactly that in more than 100 locations across Canada with No Stone Left Alone (NSLA). The remembrance ceremonies took place during Veterans week this year. From PEI to Ontario to BC to Alberta, a similar scene of reverence and moments of silence unfolded as many young students took a moment to honour fallen heroes. Perhaps, it’s the cemetery or maybe it’s the right time to engage students to think about the world around them. In a hectic world, daily conflicts and security threats bombard us. This simple ceremony of laying a poppy on a headstone is propelling a new generation to remember.
8 year old, Sophie Bishop is part of the new wave. Visiting Beechmount cemetery with NSLA is now routine for the grade three student. She says she wants to remember. Lieutenant Governor, Lois Mitchell, challenged the crowd. “It’s not enough for us to simply remember them. We need to remember their vision of peace that lives on in each one of us and how we treat each other.” The trip to Beechmount was extra special because her Grandfather, Alan came too. The pair searched and placed a poppy on the headstone of Blair Bishop, Sophie’s Great Grandfather. Sophie also brought a letter.
“Thank you for serving our country and helping Canadians. Thank you for giving our country peace.”
Such sentiment warms the heart of co-founder, Maureen Bianchini-Purvis. “I think this is a youth movement, something the students want to be part of. If we can change the views of a young generation by example of what we do, how we educate ourselves to hold onto the stories of fallen heroes, their service and leadership, then those stories will be theirs. It’s a big responsibility but all those locations and all those pictures remind me we are doing something right. Randall Purvis is overwhelmed at the rate of No Stone Left Alone’s expansion. Over 10,000 participants coast to coast placed poppies on headstones, honouring more than 52,000 soldiers. Impressive numbers and now the organization is hoping others will support their drive for fund. He is proud of the hundreds of reflection letters sent to NSLA.
“It shows us for a brief moment, young people are thinking about how fortunate they are to be here in Canada. They now have a new perspective on freedom and a new appreciation for the Canadian Armed Forces and their families.
That view isn’t lost on young Sophie and her family. Her father, Rob Bishop says he sees a change in his daughter after NSLA. “What if a war went different? Who would be running our country? We have our freedom the soldiers fought for our freedom. Please donate it doesn’t matter how much. These people gave for us why don’t we give for them?”