MARYSTOWN, NL – Jacob Farrell of Marystown experienced something few people his age has when he walked the battlefields at Beaumont-Hamel, France in July.
“The feeling was both joyous, as it was the 150th anniversary of Confederation, but also somber, as we paid tribute to the lives lost on that day 101 years earlier,” said Farrell an e-mail to the Southern Gazette.
“After the ceremony at Beaumont Hamel, our group was invited to attend a small social with the dignitaries to celebrate Canada Day.”
Farrell joined other students from across the province selected for the trip through the Ambassador Award Program, awarded by the Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador to students from Grade 7 to Level III whose heritage fair projects touch on Newfoundland and Labrador’s role in World War I.
“As a Newfoundlander, the experience felt like a pilgrimage to see the places where my ancestors fought and died for the free land I am so fortunate to live in,” he wrote.
Farrell said the experience was very meaningful to him, and he was exited to share it with others who had the same appreciation for the opportunity.
“I was able to see places many will only see in their dreams,” he said. “I had the opportunity to meet other youth from across the province who share the same interests and knowledge about our province's involvement in the First World War.”
Farrell said the most memorial part of his trip was visiting both the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
“Both memorials are so beautiful,” he said. “As I walked around the landscape, I found it so hard to believe so many young men were killed on those battlefields, that now are so well preserved.”