Shea Carmichael will help represent the province’s youth at this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies in Victoria.

Shea Carmichael will help represent the province’s youth at this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies in Victoria.

Qualicum student to lay wreath in Victoria on behalf of B.C. youth

Shea Carmichael's poem earned her the honour last year

Qualicum Beach and School District 69 will be represented at the provincial Remembrance Day ceremonies in Victoria this year, when Kwalikum Secondary’s Shea Carmichael lays a wreath.

“It was such a privilege to teach Shea, she’s such an inspiration, kind of an old soul,” said BSS teacher Carol Myhre, who encouraged her Creative Writing 12 class to enter the Legion’s annual poetry and poster contest last year.

Carmichael, who was in Grade 11 at the time, wrote a poem called Because They Fought that won first place in the district, and then first in the Vancouver Island regional contest.

It was forwarded on to the provincial contest where it again won first place, earning her a trip to Victoria to lay a wreath on behalf of the youth of B.C. through the Legion.

Carmichael’s coach Ruth Stefanek, who first contacted The NEWS about her, also praised her calling her a “great kid,” and a “genuinely hard working student.”

Myhre called the poem, which compares the life of a young Canadian man 100 years ago, to life today, “very profound,” and called Carmichael “an amazing writer.”

Interested students or teachers should contact the Legion for more information on the contest.

This year’s deadline is Nov. 15.

 

BECAUSE THEY FOUGHT

By Shea Carmichael, Nov. 2014

 

Because They Fought

 

We are free, we are strong, we are alive.

Because they fought.

We live our lives to the fullest, enjoying opportunities and aspiring to be the best we can be. We go about our daily routines safe from war.

Because they fought.

As children, we are safe to play in our neighbourhoods. As teenagers, we are safe to go to school and create a life for ourselves. As adults, we are safe to raise our families and strive for success. As seniors, we are safe to enjoy our final years how we like.

Because they fought.

We are not forced to go through what they went through. We do not know the terror of fleeing from bombers, or cowering in shelters, or moving away from everything we had ever known without knowing if it would still be there once we returned. We cannot tell people of our stories of fear. We have very few, and most are comparatively mild.

Because they fought.

There are no weapons for us to keep in our hands most of the day. We are not expected to rise with a trumpet and march towards people who want to shoot us. We are not the ones who must fight every instinct within us and raise our heads from a trench to stare down a man who we must shoot simply because he’s standing on the wrong side of the battlefield.

Because they fought.

We are free to fight if we wish, but we are not forced to. The bonds made fighting side by side are something most of us will never experience. The emotions that stem from seeing our comrades fall and pulling the trigger and taking down another man just as innocent is not something we will likely feel. Most of us will not see the faceless enemies, popping up one by one and falling down one by one, nothing more than a repeating pattern.

Because they fought.

Most of us will never return home one day a changed person, lost, confused, broken. Feeling emptiness. Hearing the guns with every loud noise, being reminded of the horrific sights and sounds that were experienced, we are free of that. We do not have to go through the trauma that is fighting in a war. We do not have to kill others because someone told us to.

Because they fought.

We are free to do what we want to do. We are free to say what we want to say. We are free to be who we want to be.

Because they fought.

 

We sympathize with those who receive a corpse in the place of a loved one, but most of us cannot empathize. We hope for those who leave their homes and their lives to defend us and what we stand for, but we cannot feel what they feel. We cry for those who go for glory or revenge or peace and are cut down, but we never knew them. We are ignorant of what it feels like. All we do is ‘understand’.

Because they fought, and they died, and they are still fighting and dying.

And we are grateful. Because if we had to experience the tragedies and the horrors that many people have experienced, it would be devastating, and many people don’t understand that. We don’t understand how disastrous a war in our own homes would be, what exactly it would do to us. We are free, but we are fragile, and what stands between us and the destruction of everything we love are the men and women fighting and dying places we cannot imagine. And they fight because others fought and died. They died for different reasons, each and every one of them, but what matters is that they were killed defending us and our freedom.

Because they fought.

We tell our children to remember them. We remind ourselves annually why we live like this. We are who we are due to the sacrifices made decades ago and on the other side of the globe, but as children we don’t understand that. We recognize that people are sad and so we are sad, but it takes a long time for us to truly realize why we are sad.

But when we realize, we can appreciate what people gave up for us. And we can do our best to imagine what they went through for us. And we take the time to mourn the losses and thank those still out there, because we can try to understand, and it is a painful reality.

We live this way because they fought and they died.

And they are still fighting and dying.

And we are grateful.

And we will not forget.

 

— Shea Carmichael November, 2014

 

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