The Royal Canadian Legion, in partnership with schools across the country, promotes Remembrance and supports youth education through its annual Youth Remembrance Contest.
Students in Grades 1-12 are invited to submit their creative posters and literary works.
The judging starts at the local Legion Branch level, winning entries move to the provincial level and if successful, are forwarded to the Legion National Foundation in Ottawa to be judged at the national level.
This year, The Royal Canadian Legion announces Kieran Watson, a Grade 7 student in the Grande Prairie Public School Division, as the winner of the national award in the category of Intermediate Poem.
“It was a tear-jerker when reading the poem for the first time,” shares Brad Lewis, President of Branch 54. “Having Kieran win this award means a great deal to the many veterans in our city.”
This is the first time a student from The City of Grande Prairie has won a Dominion Level award. Watson’s poem won first at the District Level (Branch 54), Command Level (Provincial), and Dominion Level (National).
”When my mom first told me I was frozen in shock,“ laughs Watson, ”this was the first time I had ever won a contest that meant so much for me and my parents. It is an extra special feeling that I'll carry with me forever.”
Watson says his inspiration came from wanting to show respect to his uncle and great-grandpa and to remember all the soldiers who died for Canadian freedom, “I wanted to show them the respect they deserve,” he says.
“My great-grandpa was in WWII and fought in the raid on Dieppe and was captured after his tank got stuck. He was in a German camp for years until they marched back and were brought to safety. My uncle fought in Afghanistan and a few other places.”
“This is a phenomenal achievement,” says Sandy McDonald, Superintendent. “Kieran’s success serves as an inspiration, and we are grateful to the Legion for giving students a place to Remember, to express themselves, and to shine.”
The Long Watch, by Kieran Watson
I have bled from Flanders to Panjwaii
Fought across the trench of time
I’ve defeated the evil of tyrant’s
That had no reason or rhyme
I’ve marched to the call of colours
I’ve marched to the sound of the guns
Over the beaches and into the caves
For the peace of our daughters and sons
I am no hero or statue or marker
Yet I am more than flesh or bone
I am every free breath a baby takes
And every free thought you’ve known
So if you value your rights and freedoms
If you hate evil’s chains
If you think the future is worth the cost
And that life is worth the pain
Let justice be your lantern
Liberty will be your guide
It does not take a sword or gun
To stand bravely by my side
I am a Canadian Soldier
And I will stand on guard for you
Until all things are set right again
And my long nights watch is through