REQUEST FOR ARMISTICE DAY HOLIDAY LAID BEFORE SCHOOL BOARD – G.W.V.A. Feels Keenly Inability of Trustees to Meet Them in the Matter.
In connection with the observance of Poppy Day in Cranbrook, a committee on Friday, November 4th, from the G.W.V.A. and composed of H.B. Hicks, A. Ashworth and A.F. Crowe, interviewed the members of the Cranbrook School Board with regard to granting the children of Cranbrook a holiday on November 11th, the anniversary of the cessation of hostilities in the Great War. An alternative proposal was to arrange for the G.W.V.A. obtaining the assistance of a certain number of girls to distribute the poppies to be sold on that day. The board, consisting of W.H. Wilson, chairman, W.A. Nisbet, E. McPhee, and Mesdames Miles and Jackson, although rather against the ideas, promised to give them consideration.
On the 7th instant the following letter was received by the Association:
The Secretary G.W.V.A.,
Re Poppy Day
I am directed by the School Trustees to state that they have given careful consideration to the requests of the delegation of your Association which appeared before them on Friday last in connection with the above matter, and I am to say that in view of the fact that here is already one public holiday provided for in the same week and that the principals of the schools disapprove of another holiday, the trustees do not feel justified in acceding to your requests.
Sgd. T. M. ROBERTS,
Following a meeting of the Association the following reply was directed to be forwarded to the Secretary of the School Board:
Cranbrook, B.C., Nov. 9, 1921.
The Secretary School Board,
Re Poppy Day
I beg to acknowledge your letter of the 7th instant. I reply I have been directed to state that the Association feels very keenly the fact that your Board seemed quite unable to realize the significance of the day of all days dearest to the heart of Canadian people, Armistice Day, November 11th. By the Board acceding in part to our request that they either see their way clear to grant to the schools of Cranbrook a holiday on Armistice Day or at least give us the opportunity to obtain the assistance of a certain number of the girls from the High School on that date to enable the G.W.V.A. to distribute poppies to all the people of Cranbrook district, they would certainly have assisted us materially in bringing home to the people just what Armistice Day and the wearing of the poppy flower on that day means. It might have been that the Board misunderstood the reason for our request, and because of the fact that the Association is selling poppy replicas on that day, thought the movement a mercenary one on their part. If the matter were given any mature consideration it surely would have been realized that any monetary viewpoint could not have entered into the mind of the Association, as far as any revenue for their personal use is concerned. To the men who on November 11th walked into Mons and other places of war-famed memory, this slight from the Board with no consideration for the feeling of those men who made the fear of the German heel of militarism a broken bubble for those who remained at home, is to be very much regretted.
To educate the growing generation as to the facts which the adult population should already know, the first step should most certainly be to inculcate into their minds the solemnity of the anniversary of the cessation of hostilities. Thanksgiving-Armistice Day, when coming on any other day than November 11th, means absolutely nothing even to ex-service men. But November 11th brings back in vivid relief the wondrous outbursts of rejoicing which engulfed the world when the word was flashed that the menace of the Hun was no more, due to the unfaltering allied wall which so resolutely strove against that awful menace. And that is what organizations such as ours, dedicated to the memory of the fallen boys and to obtaining justice for the living, are continually striving to accomplish. Surely it should be realized that one day in a year in which school work becomes subservient to the passion of patriotism is not asking too much considering other greater sacrifices made in other days to that same passion.
The refusal of your Board, whether unanimous or otherwise, to consider this matter from the standpoint as outlined above, is regarded as a slight upon the memory of those men who sacrificed their hopes, ambitions, and (Continued on Page 5)
(Continued from Page 1) in all too many cases, their very lives, that our Dominion should be a safe place in which the nation’s children might grow up and realize the same ambitions which their fathers, brothers and relatives so unselfishly sacrificed for that very purpose.
Thanking you for the consideration given to our Armistice Day proposals, I beg to remain
Sgd. A.F. CROWE,
P.S. – A copy of your letter and our reply is being handed to both local papers.
The matter was apparently viewed from no other point than that of convenience and from a supposed mercenary viewpoint on the part of the local Association. We have also been informed verbally that the High School principal was averse to even our alternative request. We feel sure that this was not the case.
Surely it is almost time for the public to consider that with the passing years Armistice Day, with no provision made to keep its real significance alive in the hearts of the people, will gradually sink into the discard. And no other day in the history of the world deserves more to be kept flaming bright as the Flanders poppy in the minds of those who had such a reason to rejoice on its coming into being as the day on which the world shook off its almost insurmountable burden of sacrificing at the mouth of the cannon, the bodies of those who should ever remain enshrined in the most hallowed place in our thoughts.
The Associations who have at heart the memory of the great body of men who are lying sleeping in far-off foreign fields, or who returned to this country only to yield their soul and bodies to the debt imposed upon them by the dictates of the living hell in France, are endeavoring to do their utmost to keep this spirit alive. And to them also falls the major task of seeing that those who did return either crippled physically, financially or otherwise, receive some consideration at the hands of the country which owes to them the safeguarding of the very soil over which they now so unconcernedly tread.
It may be unknown to the general public that almost every day men who are in the above situation apply to their only refuge, the returned men’s unions, to give them the assistance which they require. Were it not for these organizations many a man who least deserves the fate, would lie in a pauper’s grave or live a life of greatest torture. It is for these men that our organization is fighting so strongly. And to help them in their efforts to rehabilitate themselves in the face of the opposition coming from those who could not see with them at the call the greater proceeds of whatever revenue these soldier bodies receive goes.
And for this reason the acts of members of a public body such as a School Board, in charge of the destinies of the men and women of tomorrow, are galling to the local Association as it is to all the great united and other bodies of returned men who have this question nearest to their hearts.
GREAT WAR VETERANS ASS’N.,