Transcona students honour veterans

No Stone Left Alone returns to Transcona cemetery


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This article was published 16/11/2022 (198 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

An event that saw more than 500 students from River East Transcona School division descend upon Transcona Cemetery on a brisk November morning was uniquely poignant for one veteran.

David Gibson, who served in the military from 1983 to 2020, watched as his son, 11-year-old William Gibson and classmates paid their respects at the cemetery’s freshly snow-covered Field of Honour as part of the No Stone Left Alone ceremony on Nov. 7.

“The (organizers) hadn’t been able to put this ceremony on because of COVID, so my daughter missed it — she’s 12,” Gibson said. “But, we do come out here on Decoration Day … My son is in Scouts and takes part in the Decoration Day parade.”

Photo Katlyn Streilein

Over 500 students from the River East Transcona School Division took part in the No Stone Left Alone Ceremony at Transcona Cemetery’s Field of Honour on Nov. 7.

The No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation is a national organization launched in 2011 to honour military veterans by educating youth and having them place poppies on headstones leading up to Remembrance Day.

The Field of Honour is the final resting place of Gibson’s father, William Gibson, for whom David’s son was named. (The Gibson children’s great-grandfather on their mother’s side, who fought in the First World War, is also buried onsite).

The elder William Gibson joined the Canadian army in 1939 when the Second World War was declared. He took his training in Kingston, Ont. and became a signaller for the 19th Canadian Army Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery, third division.

Gibson recalls that his father arrived in England by boat before Christmas of the same year.

“I think he was the first Transcona guy to get over to England,” said Gibson, who completed one tour in Bosnia and two in Afghanistan during his service.

Photo by Katlyn Streilein

Second World War veterans Robert Bullen, Stephen Andrushko and Peter Frejuk attended the Nov. 7 ceremony.

Following exercises in England, William took part in the invasion of Sicily in Italy. This continued from 1943 to 1945. He was granted leave in March of 1945 and returned to Canada, where he married Gibson’s late mother, Helen Gibson.

William taught signallers at the Canadian Forces Base, Shilo until he was demobilized. From there, he returned to work until retirement age for the Canadian National Railway, which had granted him leave during his military service. Peter Martin, Manitoba co-ordinator of the No Stone Left Alone ceremony, said he’s confident the next generation will continue to honour veterans. The cause is dear to Martin. He, too, is a veteran. And the same goes for his father, who landed on Juno Beach during the first wave of the Allied forces’ D-Day invasion of France on June 6, 1944.

“The students were very respectful,” Martin said of the morning’s proceedings. “It is really heartwarming and emotional when I see how (the children) had the opportunity to meet the three of the last remaining Second World War veterans.”

Second World War veterans in attendance were Robert Bullen, Stephen Andrushko and Peter Frejuk, all of whom are in their mid to late-nineties. (Andrushko and Frejuk have been friends for over 90 years.)

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students, and for us, to see we truly do appreciate their service,” Martin said. “I hope they tell their friends, tell their families, and think about this years from now.”

Photo by Katlyn Streilein

Peter Martin, regional co-ordinator for the No Stone Left Alone ceremony, is hopeful younger generations will continue to honour veterans through events such as this.

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein was a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review.

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