St. Anselm Catholic School teacher David Nespolo has a special feeling for Remembrance Day. The Grade 6 teacher, who has taught for eight years, the last four at St. Anselm’s, is the coordinator of the school’s annual ceremony.
When he was 16, his uncle, a captain in the Governor General’s Horse Guards Reserve Unit and director of music with the Regimental Band, recruited him for the unit and to play his clarinet in the band. This original summer job has become an ongoing commitment.
Having an uncle in the military has been a major influence in Mr. Nespolo’s life and helped to shape his attitudes. Being in the military himself has given him “the opportunity to provide students with the real-life connection to everyday people who are serving in the military for us.” They thus become people with jobs and families rather than “robots in uniforms.”
With his connection to the Horse Guards Band, Mr. Nespolo has been able to add an extra dimension to special events at the school. For example, he and some of his fellow band members will appear in uniform and provide music for the school’s Remembrance Day ceremony on Friday, November 10. In addition, parents, students, staff, veterans and active soldiers will lay wreaths to honour those who have served Canada.
Students take part in the ceremony by singing in the choir or doing readings. There is often a PowerPoint presentation with visuals and personal stories of soldiers who are no longer with us.
Mr. Nespolo believes that “this type of ceremony connects with the students in a meaningful way and focuses on the sacrifices of veterans to safeguard our freedoms and life-style, sacrifices that are easy to take for granted.”
In addition, he likes to focus more on members of the military who are currently serving on peace missions in various locations even though we are not officially at war. He feels this “resonates more with the children since this affects them more directly than events from the past.”
It is no surprise that student response to the Remembrance Day ceremony is very positive, with many students thanking Mr. Nespolo for the experience, and for enabling them to feel a personal connection with members of the military.
And for his part, he feels honoured to give the students this opportunity. He is proud of the accomplishments of those who have served Canada and of the fact that he himself is part of the tradition of representing our country.