SPECIAL TO THE COMPASS
Carbonear Collegiate student Colby Sharpe stood with his fellow 589 Air Cadets in solitude on Nov. 11 as part of the Remembrance Day service in his hometown.
As an air cadet for the last number of years, Sharpe had participated in this exercise before, but this year was different. He felt different. That’s because Sharpe was one of three air cadets from this province chosen to travel to Beaumont-Hamel this past summer. The life-changing experience has given him an even deeper appreciation for those who gave their life while serving their country.
“The battlefield of Beaumont-Hamel has been stuck in my mind a lot,” Sharpe tells The Compass, as he recalls some of the most powerful moments during his time in France.
“(On Remembrance Day) I did feel different. I thought a lot more about the human sacrifice that comes with war after having that experience of being at Beaumont-Hamel and seeing it myself.”
As someone with a passion for history, especially military history, Sharpe was thrilled to learn he was selected to join the “trip of a lifetime.”
As part of the Beaumont-Hamel Pilgrimage — Trail of the Caribou, this educational experience is intended to promote “enduring remembrance,” according to the Legion Newfoundland and Labrador website, “and pairs veterans and youth on a journey.”
The students on the pilgrimage were able to visit and pay respect to the Newfoundlanders who served, as they travelled and participated in memorial ceremonies at the Caribou Memorial in both France and Belgium which mark the battleground of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
“Through this program of remembrance, the participating youth become ‘Ambassadors of Remembrance’ for our fallen heroes so they shall never be forgotten,” the website states.
The experience left a tremendous impact on Sharpe.
“It was an honour to stand in Beaumont-Hamel on Canada Day and pay my respects in person to those who gave their lives for our freedom,” Sharpe recalls. “I had the opportunity to actually walk through the same trenches that our soldiers walked through. I couldn’t help but think about how short the trenches were, how difficult it must have been to live in them. I couldn’t help but think of how terrifying it must have been to go over the top and ultimately go to your death. Being able to actually stand there instead of just reading about it meant a lot to me, and it’s something I will never forget.”
Sharpe soaked up as much history as he could, and he encourages anyone who is considering applying for an enriching program such as this, to not pass up what could be a life-changing tour.
“I had the chance to experience different cultures and languages as well. The trip was educational and filled with great memories and new friendships. I am so grateful to the Royal Canadian Legion and the 589 Cadets for providing me with this amazing opportunity.”
It appears the Trail of the Caribou will remain an important part of Sharpe’s own pilgrimage. While he still has one more year to decide, he shares he is considering a career as a history teacher when he completes high school. There’s no doubt the things he learned and witnessed for himself this past summer will shape future history lesson plans.
If you would like to learn more about cadets, newcomers are welcome to visit the 589 Air Cadets group. They meet each Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Carbonear Collegiate.