Video – Two Local Students’ Remembrance Day Poems Go National

In Editor Choice, Local


By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
Generations of students have entered their poems, artwork and essays in the Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance Day contest, but Branch 133 Youth Education Chair Judy Elliott can’t recall a local entry that made it all the way to national level.

Not until Declan and Reagan Matthews of Notre Dame Elementary School at least.

The brother and sister both wrote poems for the contest back in November. Both poems won at branch, zone, district and provincial levels for their respective age groups. At an assembly at their school this week, Elliott made a presentation to both – with an extra certificate for Reagan, whose poem placed third at national level.

“I’m very proud – they did great,” stated Elliott – who submitted her own Remembrance Day contest entries back in her student days.

“This is the best results we’ve seen in years.”

Interviewed after the presentation, both students mentioned the inspiration behind their work.

“I got inspired because of the people that fought in World War II,” 11-year-old Grade 5 student Declan said.

“I’m just happy my poem got so far, so I could spread the word of the fallen in the war.”

Their parents Scott and Amanda Matthews have given them special gifts and insights that added power to the poems.

“For a long time, I have been interested in the war, and my great-grandpa actually fought in it,” 13-year-old Grade 8 student Reagan added.

“My papa has given me his diaries from the war, and some of that inspired me,” she added.

She spoke of the sacrifice and bloodshed she read of in these historical documents, and turning them into imagery “so people would actually know the extent of what actually happened in the war.”

Declan chose poetry to share his thoughts “because it’s short, but you can really express yourself in poetry.”

While Reagan loves expressing herself in artistic form, she also likes literature and finds poetry is “straight to the point.

“I’m actually really interested in it. During COVID-19, my mom taught me a lot about poetry, and she actually does writing.”

She polished her poem with a mind toward the Legion’s requests – strong imagery and mention of Canada. She sees the results as a story her great-grandpa might have told to his grandson.

The winning reception her poem found has inspired her to try again in next November’s Remembrance Day contest,

“I feel like it’s made a change in people’s lives, and the people I have read it to – they said it actually put the war in perspective for them,” she said.

Remembrance Day Pride

by Declan Matthews

What is Remembrance Day to me

As a a ten year old boy who is free

It is bombs, bullets and bodies all around

It is soldiers who were never found

It is so many kids who lost their dad

Who woke up every day after very sad

It is the women who sacrificed and worked hard

Who watched over their children and stood guard

It is the loss of so many lives

So we could live, so we could thrive

It is veterans, poppies and grave markers

Sacrifices to bring light so it wouldn’t get darker

On November 11th we all come to show pride

So we can remember and give thanks to those who died


Their Sacrifice Our Freedom

by Reagan Matthews
The bombs blasted with an eerie orange glow

Illuminating the sky, piercing the darkness below

The whizzing of bullets blazing past my ear

Compelled me to scream and crouch down in fear

For my country, for Canada, I have to be brave

For the allied world, I will squelch my featrs and save

The darkness enveloped the trenches in the late hours of night

This war is demanding but I will continue to fight

I jump to my feet and race through the debris

Knowing I would face the enemy

The allies around me held their rifles as they roared

I adjusted my firearm as the bullets soared

I knelt down behind a grove of trees

Pointed my rifle at someone my age and began to pray on my knees

My finger squeezed the trigger so fast

He falls to the ground lifeless and I know he won’t be the last

This story I heard from Great Grandpa every year

Never once did he shed a tear

Veterans like him should be respected every day

During war he never wanted to hesitate or disobey

People sacrificed their lives so we could be free

So we wouldn’t reside in a country we would be forced to flee

I think of Vimy Ridge, Normandy, and Afghanistan

And so many other wars our solders could withstand

Their selflessness and determination brought Canada pride

Our veterans wisdom can be our guide

Our guide for the youth in Canada’s time ahead

So we can teach the generations to come to remember the fallen bloodshed

On November 11th we stand in recollection

We acknowledge their sacrifice to lead our country in the right direction

We honor our soldiers sacrifice and sweat

So on this day, lest we forget

Cecilia Nasmith
Author: Cecilia Nasmith

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