SASKATOON - This Remembrance Day was special for Taylor Wakelin, a 2021 graduate of McLurg High School in Wilkie.
In her final year at high school, Taylor, daughter of Nicole and Blake, authored a poem for the annual Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance Day contest that was ultimately chosen as the Canadian national poem winner in the senior category. The win meant Taylor along with her mother travelled to Ottawa for this year's Remembrance Day ceremony.
The Legion flew Taylor and her mother and six other winners and their chaperones to participate in the Nov. 11 service.
The group toured Beechwood Cemetery and the Canadian War Museum. They enjoyed two fancy lunches and sat in the front row at the national Remembrance Day ceremony. They observed as Gov. Gen. Mary Simon, Silver Cross Mother Josee Simard, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and many other dignitaries laid wreaths in memory of the thousands of men and women who have died in the wars from the early 1900s to the present day.
Taylor says one of her favourite moments of the trip was having lunch at Rideau Hall.
"It was so special being in that building with so many important people. We had the opportunity to get to meet the various guests and treated to an incredibly special meal," Taylor tells the Press-Herald/SASKTODAY.ca
"I am so thankful to have had this opportunity. A trip to remember."
Taylor adds she hopes her poem and her success with it will inspire other students to take part in the annual contest inviting posters, poems and essays.
"We must never forget the sacrifice of so many men and women who died for our freedom," she says.
Taylor’s great-uncle, Earl Irwin, was a veteran of the Second World War Two, joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942 and serving with the 443 Porcupine Squadron at Skipton on Swale air base in northern England as an aero technician. Earl survived the war, was a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Wilkie branch No. 139 and died in 2018. Taylor along with her family heard the stories from her uncle that have helped her understand the importance of Remembrance Day.
Taylor is back at the University of Saskatchewan where she is studying for a Bachelor of Education, majoring in English.
Forget to Remember
I've walked past the cenotaph more times than there are hours in a day,
But if you asked me to recite a single name from the monument, I don't think I could say
I simply stroll right by, overlooking the soldiers and their fight,
But I preach love and remembrance in the Legion poems I write
Every student stands in perfect and complete silence at the sound of the brass,
But we later complain to our friends about missing our favourite class
Instead of giving those men and women our utmost respect,
We sit and think about how our morning is slowly being wrecked
On that one special day, we don red poppies proudly on our breast,
But when the ceremony is over, we leave them in a drawer for a year-long rest
Along with the flower, we leave our compassion and care,
But it will surely return next year, just like the cold November air
At the end of each day, we return home to see our fathers and brothers
We take our freedom and our family for granted, just like so many others
We do not think about those who left their loved ones without saying goodbye
Or those who left home to fight proudly, not imagining they would die
While we all want to seem appreciative, empathetic, and polite,
We should learn that taking an interest in veterans for only one day is not right
There are three hundred and sixty-five days to honour their strength and grit,
But it seems as if by November twelfth we want to stop and quit
It is time we look at those who fought with more than our half-hearted admiration
Treat them like the heroes they are, the ones that fought for our nation
It is not enough to show recognition and gratitude once a November
It is a shame, but we are slowly beginning to forget to remember
#139 Wilkie & District Br.