Students at Bishop Carroll High School in Calgary, Alberta know that their Remembrance Day ceremony is not something to miss.

“I remember it being very moving. I felt really connected with some of the past soldiers, and like we really honoured them with our liturgy,” says Paxton Cote, a 17-year-old football player at the school. ” It is just such a sad thing, and so, we need to remember what happened.”

Students at the high school play an active role in composing the Remembrance Day ceremony, due to a connection they have with previous graduates serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. The ceremony is opened by the cadet lead Flag Party, a prayer, and followed by respectful music by the school’s band, choir and string ensemble.

Graduate and former Bishop Carroll football player Corporal Nathan Hornburg lost his life serving in Afghanistan at the age of 24 in September 2007. Every year following 2007, football players from the school have played a part in the Remembrance Day ceremony, acting as Masters of Ceremonies for the event. 

“We lost one of our own,” says Barb Waddell, the school chaplain and organizer of the ceremony.”Both our Remembrance Day celebration and the participation of our football players have come from that.” 

Every year, students hear personal stories that connect them with what Canadians remember on Remembrance Day. Previous speakers included several members of Canada’s Armed Forces, as well as Corporal Hornburg’s mother and Veteran Mark Fuchko. Fuchko, also a graduate and former football player of the high school, was serving in Afghanistan mere months after Corporal Hornburg when he lost both his legs in an explosion. 

Photos courtesy of Bishop Carroll High School, Calgary
Riley Isaacs, a 17-year-old football player at the school said, “Hearing from somebody who has served in the Canadian Military, really opens your eyes to how much of a sacrifice they made for the rest of us.”

Students from the school continue to share a connection with the veterans beyond Remembrance Day. Corporal Hornburg’s number has been retired from the team, and every year a student is awarded the Corporal Nathan Hornburg Award. Fuchko has also inspired the football team to wear “Remember Our Troops” stickers on all their helmets.  

“It makes you feel inspired to love and support those who have fought for our country, in order to represent the ideals we support–that every human deserves,” said student Ben Beaudry, 17, “It’s just inspiring.” 

In preparation for this Remembrance Day, students at Bishop Carroll have come together to collect non-perishable food items for the Veteran’s Association Food Bank. 

Written by Katherine Szojka, a recent graduate of St Gabriel High School, and is currently living in Calgary, Alberta. 
  • Read Veteran Mark Fuchko’s story here
  • Find Corporal Nathan Hornburg’s memorial here

This content was originally published here.