Studying on sacred ground
Forty-six Memorial University students just experienced first-hand what they have heard about in class – the battlefield at Beaumont-Hamel.
On Nov. 11 this year, 24 students and two Memorial professors currently studying at Memorial’s campus in Harlow, England, made the trip across the channel to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies at the memorial park. And next August, another 22 Harlow students and two professors will make the trip, visiting Beaumont-Hamel and other First World War battlefields.
The trips are supported through the Living Memorial Commemoration Fund, which was established by the university to provide assistance with the planning and delivery of First World War commemoration projects. Since the fund was launched in June of this year, 22 projects have been funded. More information is available at www.mun.ca/WW100.
Beaumont-Hamel is one of five memorial sites dedicated to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who paid the ultimate price in the First World War. Immediately after the war, Newfoundland acquired these sites in perpetuity. With battlefield scars and trenches still visible, Beaumont-Hamel is one of the most visited First World War memorials in Northern France. It was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1997.
“Students attending this year’s ceremony in France will be asked to keep a video diary of their visit, and each student will be asked to followup their visit by researching one of the less-known members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment,” said Dr. Don Nichol, professor, Department of English, and Harlow Literary London program co-ordinator, who escorted the students this month. “We want our students to appreciate more fully the great sacrifice the regiment made, as well as the reason why Memorial Day is so important in our history, lest we forget what the name of our university means.”
Stephanie Tucker, a fourth year communication studies student has already posted her video online.
Memorial University was established as a living memorial by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in memory of those who fought and died in the First World War so that “… in the freedom of learning, their cause and sacrifice would not be forgotten.”