Twenty-seven students awarded bursaries in names of MRU alumni who died in battle
Light sobs and sniffles were heard during a two-minute silence after bagpipers led a procession to the front of a stage at Mount Royal University on Nov. 8, which hosted the first annual Military Memorial event as one of its centennial initiatives.
Bursaries valued at $2,500 were presented to MRU students in the names of the 27 MRU alumni who died in combat since the university's opening in 1910.
Guest speaker Peter MacKay, minister of national defence, said that "having a bursary in the name of fallen soldiers is a wonderful living legacy and one of the things in fact we're fighting for in Afghanistan: the opportunity for people to get an education and follow their dreams."
Director of MRU Archives Patricia Roome led a team of historians who researched for four years to create the bursaries and find friends and family of the soldiers.
Photos of the fallen — many from the First and Second World wars — were projected onto screens hanging on red-lit walls of the Ross Glen Hall.
In total, 400 people attended the Military Memorial. Among a sea of poppies were veterans dressed in military regalia, their family, friends, and the MRU community. Together, the crowd bowed their heads and stood in reverence and remembrance.
Dan Forde, 43, displayed badges and medals covering his leather Canadian Army Veteran vest that read "3rd C.A.V." A second-year history student at MRU, Forde said that this week is about remembering his friends who are no longer here with his "fellow veteran brothers."
Other speakers in attendance were Alberta Premier Alison Redford; the honourary chair of the Military Memorial project, retired general John de Chastelain; Alberta Lt.-Gov. Donald Ethell; and MRU president David Docherty.
Redford, an MRU alumni, addressed the crowd.
"No one better exemplifies the Canadian values of duty and service to others and no one pays so high a price when these values must be defended," said the premier.
Later, the crowd stood and some people wiped away their tears once again as the honoured speakers and members of the military lined up wreaths reading "Lest We Forget" in front of the stage.
During the ceremony, a military band member played the bugle and John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" was read by Grant Patterson, an MRU theatre, speech and music instructor.
Students walked across the stage to receive their bursary and were congratulated by the honoured guests.
Afterwards, Michael Hornburg became emotional as he listened to Julia Pasieka speak about the importance of her bursary in the name of his son, Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, who died in 2007 while serving in a United Nations military operation. He was 24 years old.
"There were a lot of emotions especially when she quoted from Nathan's own words," Hornburg said.
"She captured the essence incredibly well when she said that it's not the death of one person. It's the worst thing for human beings. It's the death of hope."
Roxanne Van Haarlem received the bursary named for Pte. Cecil Wallar Duke, who died in 1916. As the mother of three young children, she said the bursary is a huge financial relief.
Van Haarlem also said that even Canadians who do not have a close connection to the military should recognize the importance of Remembrance Day because "it affects everybody's life even though you may not realize it."
For information about the honoured soldiers visit http://www.mtroyal.ca/100/military_memorial_project.htm
- By ALYSSA QUIRICO