A group of Cloverdale high school students hosted a luncheon honouring local veterans on Saturday, May 18, inviting veterans and their family members to a complimentary meal.
“Hold High the Torch” formed in October 2018 at Cloverdale’s newest secondary school, Salish Secondary. The group consists of 11 students who want to “connect the individual stories and experiences of veterans to students, to honour the fallen and support the troops who serve our nation today,” co-founder Joon Sohn, 16, told the Reporter.
The student-led group organized the luncheon to show appreciation for those “who served our nation and fought for our freedoms.”
About 30 veterans attended, and the gymnasium at Salish Secondary was filled with their guests, students and local dignitaries.
Surrey city councillors, Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag, Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Marvin Hunt and Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux were all present.
“By being here today we’re all taking time to reflect on the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have served in uniform,” said MP Aldag. “We must remember all they have done, what you have done, during times of war, military conflict and peace. This helps us better understand our nation’s history and its future.”
Aldag pointed to federal initiatives that will recognize the 75th anniversary of D-Day this year, including the symbolic journey of a pair of combat boots, which are making their way across the nation to trace the journey that soldiers made during the Second World War.
For MLA Hunt, remembrance is personal. Events that honour veterans always bring to mind his great uncle, he said.
“My uncle fought in the First and Second World Wars. And usually around Remembrance Day, it was the one time you would start to talk about the wars. And the subject would come up and we would ask him, ‘Uncle Bill, tell us a war story.’ And he’d get a distant look in his eye, and he’d just start to cry,” Hunt said, with emotion.
“Never ever did he tell us a war story,” he said.
When you look at the history of what he experienced, you realize why, he said.
The luncheon’s keynote speaker was Yonah Martin, deputy leader of the official opposition in the Canadian senate.
Senator Martin’s parents survived the Korean War, and she is well-known for her Korean War Veterans Day Act, which created a national day of remembrance for Canadian veterans of the Korean War in 2013.
As she began her remarks, she said that Hold High the Torch caught her attention right away. Their name “grabbed her heart,” she said.
The phrase is a reference to John McRae’s famous poem In Flanders Fields, in which he writes “To you from failing hands we throw / The torch; be yours to hold it high.”
“It was impressive knowing that this initiative was coming from our students, from our current generation,” said Martin.
“What they want to do is to bring generations together to remember, to honour, and to connect so that we understand that we are standing here today, not by accident or by chance, but because of everything that has led us to this moment.”
For more on Hold High the Torch, visit holdhighthetorch.weebly.com.