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Remembrance Day takes on a new meaning for Grand Falls-Windsor sisters

Ally and Seanah Etheridge will be attending the Remembrance Day ceremony in Grand Falls-Windsor this year with the 1916 Beaumont Hamel Royal Canadian Army Cadets as they have in the past, however, this year they will have a whole new respect for everything it represents after a trip to Beaumont Hamel for the 100th year celebrations on July 1 of this year.
Ally and Seanah Etheridge will be attending the Remembrance Day ceremony in Grand Falls-Windsor this year with the 1916 Beaumont Hamel Royal Canadian Army Cadets as they have in the past, however, this year they will have a whole new respect for everything it represents after a trip to Beaumont Hamel for the 100th year celebrations on July 1 of this year.

Grand Falss-Windsor, NL- Not only will the memories last a lifetime, the experience of a summer trip — and lessons learned — will continue to grow for years to come.

And for two sisters from Grand Falls-Windsor, this Remembrance Day will be different from the others they have participated in.

Ally and Seanah Etheridge were among 14 cadets and three officers from the 1916 Beaumont Hamel Royal Canadian Army Cadets who commemorated the 100th anniversary of going over the top at Beaumont Hamel during the First World War.

A battle in which 11 men from the former towns of Grand Falls and Grand Falls Station lost their lives on July 1, 1916.

After a couple of months to process the trip, the sisters say heading into Remembrance Day this year feels completely different compared to years before.

“I’ve been doing the Remembrance Day ceremonies now with cadets for four years and there are mornings that I wake up and it’s freezing out and I think ‘I don’t want to go do this,’” Ally said. “But this year I have a different look on it. I’ve been to what they have went through and you get this feeling of the cold and the snow is just not that big of a deal as we make it out to be.”

Seanah, 14, said she was 12 when she first joined cadets so she didn’t really know much about the war.

“But going over there really opened my eyes to what actually happened,” Seanah said. “It’s a lot different knowing.”

And for two sisters from Grand Falls-Windsor, this Remembrance Day will be different from the others they have participated in.

Ally and Seanah Etheridge were among 14 cadets and three officers from the 1916 Beaumont Hamel Royal Canadian Army Cadets who commemorated the 100th anniversary of going over the top at Beaumont Hamel during the First World War.

A battle in which 11 men from the former towns of Grand Falls and Grand Falls Station lost their lives on July 1, 1916.

After a couple of months to process the trip, the sisters say heading into Remembrance Day this year feels completely different compared to years before.

“I’ve been doing the Remembrance Day ceremonies now with cadets for four years and there are mornings that I wake up and it’s freezing out and I think ‘I don’t want to go do this,’” Ally said. “But this year I have a different look on it. I’ve been to what they have went through and you get this feeling of the cold and the snow is just not that big of a deal as we make it out to be.”

Seanah, 14, said she was 12 when she first joined cadets so she didn’t really know much about the war.

“But going over there really opened my eyes to what actually happened,” Seanah said. “It’s a lot different knowing.”

Sisters Ally and Seanah Etheridge were able to experience the trip of a lifetime together with 12 other 1916 Beaumont Hamel Royal Canadian Army Cadets from Grand Falls-Windsor. The sisters are pictured at Monchy-le-Preux.

Their Great-Great Uncle Richard Etheridge was killed a few months before the war ended after being wounded twice and going back into service each time. Their grandfather Pat Etheridge was in the Korean Conflict and step-great-grandfather was in the Second World War.

“Since as long as I can remember we have been going to the (Remembrance Day) ceremony with Mom (Dawn) and Dad (Sean),” Ally said. “We’ve always known that my grandfather and my step-grandfather both were in the war, and knowing that my step-grandfather lied about his age and went to war at 17, and I’m 17 in a few months, it’s hard to believe age-wise this is what they were doing.”

The trip overseas puts everything in perspective, and made the girls realize how good they have it.

“Going through school, every year around this time you watch the movies about it, and you read the stories about it, and you see the pictures of the graveyards and you are like that’s a lot, but when you are over there and seeing it in this 360 view of everything around you, it’s crazy,” Ally said.

When they “In Flanders’s Fields” recited this year they will have a new appreciation as well, and it will bring back many memories of their visit overseas.

“We went to Sussex Farm, and they had the poem written up on a plaque and we read it while we were there,” Seanah said.

“When we read it over there it was such a big difference because you are reading it there, where there’s tonnes of graves. I think to hear it this year after being over there, we will understand it more than we had previously,” Ally said.

Each year, on Remembrance Day, the cadets march from the armouries to the memorial grounds and stand at attention.

“Us standing on our little memorial grounds compared to over there seeing all the bomb trenches and everything else, it’s amazing,” Seanah said.

This year, the ceremony will take place at the revamped grounds and the new cenotaph.

Some cadets are chosen to lay wreaths during the ceremony. Ally usually has this opportunity, and was the last person to lay a wreath on the old monument, Seanah said.

“When I was walking up I didn’t know and the guy next to me said, ‘You are going to be the last person to lay a wreath at this cenotaph before it changes,’” Ally said.

The girls said they will be marching with more pride this year and a whole new respect for the ceremony and everything it represents.

“We used to be like, ‘When is it going to be over, hurry up,’” Seanah said.

“It’s so different because we used to just stand there and complain about the weather,” Ally said. “I will be cold, but I won’t be complaining about it this year.”

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