Seven chairs, each dressed with a different St. Michael’s College School alumnus and war veteran’s photo and record of service, sit empty in the halls of St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) this week.
Each of them containing the image and record of service of a St. Michael's alumnus who fought and died in the Second World War. These chairs and images will play a role in our service on November 11.
It’s time to remember.
Inspired by 'The Empty Chair' sculpture created by Hannes Johannsen at the Lochnagar Crater near the Somme battlefield, the empty chairs represent the void left in many homes as a result of the incredible loss of life during the First World War.
Having always been an important day for the SMCS community, a special committee was established in 2003 to dedicate additional time to the planning and execution of the annual all-school service.
“Remembrance Day has always held a special place at St. Michael's College School,” says David Lee, Vice Principal. “For our students, war is generally something that they see on the news in a far away place. Because of that, it can be hard for them to really understand the gravity and horror of war and truly appreciate the sacrifices made by our soldiers.”
“The goal of the Remembrance Day committee is to put together a service that both remembers and honours the sacrifices made by the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, and to promote the ongoing need to be peacemakers in our world,” says Lee.
This year’s service will reflect on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and specifically Canada's role at Juno Beach. St. Michael’s College School has been blessed with various alumni guest speakers who have served in the Second World War, Afghanistan, as well as those currently serving. The service will feature Maj. Matthew Napier from the class of 2000. Napier is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces having served as a Legal Officer with the Office of the Judge Advocate General since 2009. He currently serves in the Military Justice division at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.
“One of the main purposes of our Remembrance Day service is to help our students form a connection with our military past and to pay respect to those individuals who answered the call of duty and fought for our rights and freedoms,” says Lee. “We hope to bring their stories to life and to inspire our students to be of similar service to their community.”
SMCS is proud of its many alumni who have served in the Canadian Forces for over a century. There are currently 117 names engraved on our memorial wall and inscribed in our Book of Remembrance. Each one embodies our current school vision: ‘We graduate young men who will change the world through lives of faith, character, and service.’ Their service required paying the ultimate price, and for that, their legacy will forever be honoured at St. Michael's College School.