Why one high school student in Labrador City says we can never forget


Published on April 12, 2017

Vimy Ridge monument, part of Jack Brennan's tour of France last year.

©Submitted

The eyes of the world were focused on Vimy ridge, on April 9th as celebrations marked the 100th anniversary of that infamous battle.

Two of those eyes belonged to Jack Brennan a grade 12 student at Menihek High School in Labrador City.

Even though he was thousands of miles away, he was there in spirit.

"I really got to understand what happened at Vimy and other battles, last year," he told TC.  Jack and his fellow schoolmates were part of a large delegation that travelled to France for the 100th anniversary of Beaumont Hamel. 

"Until that visit, those wars were something far away,” he said. Even though students read about the war, and see videos, being there made those events take on a whole new meaning.

"All of a sudden it was real, I realized many of the people who fought in those trenches and died in them were my age," said Jack. Many of our group quickly realized that and could not fathom how they could stand there and face the horrors that they did at such a young age.

"We have to remember what they did, we can never forget, we have to make sure they didn't die in vain, we have our freedom to prove that" he told TC.

Jack says one thing that was obvious was that the People of France certainly haven't forgotten what the Newfoundlanders, Labradorians and the Canadians did for them.

"To be in a small village like Albert in France, and to see so many Newfoundland flags and the appreciation people had for what was done for them," brought it all home according to Jack.

The students visited gravesites, where young soldiers their age were buried. Young people who maybe lied about their age, young people the age of Jack and his schoolmates. 

Another thing that got the attention of the group was the simple drawings or initials etched into stones or in a cave.

“The way we often still do," said Jack. "You might put your initials on a rock or say Jack was here" only in this case it was young soldiers doing exactly what we still do today. "It made me understand these were people just like me and my classmates," he told TC.

"These people and all others who sacrificed their lives in war should never be forgotten," said Jack. "Remember them all year, not just a day."

While he thinks a lot of people have learned a lesson from what happened,  "we still have war he says." 

"Everyone should experience what myself and my fellow students experienced," he says. "Maybe then people will have a better understanding of just what they went through, and how big a sacrifice they made."