CORNER BROOK — On July 1st a young man from Meadows will walk on ground in France where so many young Newfoundlanders lost their lives 96 years ago.
Ian Locke, 18, a Level 3 student at Templeton Academy will be joining three other young people from the province to mark Memorial Day at Beaumont Hamel.
The four are all provincial winners in the Royal Canadian Legion's Remembrance Day Literacy and Poster Contest.
Locke has been entering the contest since Grade 8. His inspiration at the time came from a role he had in the school's drama club production of "Soldier's Heart," by David French.
The play is about a father who was in the First World War and a few years later is telling his story for the first time.
"I guess it kind of sparked an interest in remembrance and Remembrance Day," said Locke. "So I decided to enter a poem."
That first year he placed third in the regional contest.
He's entered again each year after and in Level 2 submitted an essay and a poem. And he did the same thing this year.
This year's essay was in a speech form.
"That asked people to think, imagine and remember," said Locke.
The poem is about looking behind the tears of an old soldier's eyes at a Remembrance Day ceremony.
"It was in the point of view of a younger person who looked and saw an old soldier crying and didn't understand why," he said.
At the local level of the contest, administered by Branch 13, Locke took first place in both the senior poetry and senior essay categories.
His entries then went on to the provincial level and his essay was chosen first overall by the Royal Canadian Legion's Provincial Command. He beat out winners from the other 46 branches across the province to earn the opportunity to travel to Beaumont Hamel.
He learned of the win in mid-April and will travel to St. John's early next week and then on to France on June 28.
Locke said it's a bit hard to believe he will be at Beaumont Hamel on July 1.
"Especially since I'm here now doing exams, getting through school and then in a week I'll be in Beaumont Hamel for the July 1 Memorial Day Ceremony," he said. "It's just such a different world."
Locke said he is grateful and appreciative of the opportunity.
Ever since he appeared in "Soldier's Heart," Locke said he's wanted to see the green fields of France.
He said the way French describes what happened there, and what it's like a few years after, is something he wants to see for himself.
But he also recognizes what the trip is all about and the need to remember.
"I just think we all need to remember the sacrifices that soldiers had made for the country," Locke said. "Cause a lot of the times nowadays youth aren't remembering. They aren't even considering it as important because we haven't had to deal with war. But that's the reason we haven't had to deal with war."
Accompanying the students will be six members of the Royal Canadian Legion and some provincial government representatives.