Carol Mitchell speaks to the St. Dominic students about her son. Also in photograph, from left to right are: Joan Gibbs, Representing Terence Young, MP, Alice Anne LeMay, Oakville Trustee, Halton CDSB, Pauline Houlahan, Oakville Trustee, Halton CDSB and Ellen Kushnik, Representing Kevin Flynn, MPP.

On June 1, 2010, St. Dominic Catholic Elementary School held an event to honour their special guest, Carol Mitchell, whose son Corporal Robert Thomas James Mitchell, was killed during his deployment in Afghanistan, in October of 2006.

St. Dominic student Rachel Kotur welcomed everyone to the event with the following address:

We are all here for a special occasion. Before Remembrance Day, all of us, as the Grade 7 students of St. Dominic’s Catholic Elementary School, came together and made many posters for all the fallen soldiers from Afghanistan. All of the posters were sent out to the families of these soldiers’, with a letter attached to the poster. All of these letters came straight from our hearts as we tried to feel the way all the families did.We explained how sorry we felt for these families, and how grateful we are that such brave men and women would stand up for our country. After all it is because of these brave men and women that Canada is a free country.

During our school year, we focused on a few questions about human dignity. Some of the questions were how do we develop faith and trust, how do I fit in the community, what is community, and finally who am I.

“We believe that Robert Thomas James Mitchell showed us how to answer all of these questions during his life time. He gave us someone to believe in because of his bravery, and it was easy to have faith in him because of his strength. He shows what a community is because he helped other people who he had never met before.

We believe that helping people is what makes a strong community because a community is a large amount of people coming together not just one person. He showed who he was by standing up for what he believed in and he tried to change the wrongs to make them right.

This year we have also worked on making connections between quotes, poems, stories etc., so I found a quote that I think best describes why we are here today and a quote that describes Corporal Robert Thomas James Mitchell.

“The bravest battle that ever was fought; Shall I tell you where and when? On the maps of the world you will find it not; It was fought by the mothers of soldiers.” The quote that I found that I believe describes Mr. Mitchell is “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all. For now you are traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be.”

During the event, Carol Mitchell spoke about her son and how much he loved both Canada and the Canadian Army, “He loved the armed forces because, he told me once that, people in the armed forces are there to protect him and his country and he wanted to protect them too.”

This event came about after the St. Dominic Catholic Elementary School Grade 7 History class sent Mrs. Mitchell a sympathetic poster and letter when her son died in 2006, and when she received another another poster and letter again this year, Carol wanted to visit the school and thank the students personally.

Carol spoke to a tearful audience about how it feels to receive such a special poster and letter, “To get a letter like this, to know that somebody else cares, is a wonderful feeling. And I had to come here and thank you all for helping me.”

Under the direction of Grade 7 History teacher John MacPhail, this Grade 7 class has been making posters and letters for families of fallen soldiers for the past five years. John created this innovative and heartfelt project. In 2007, John received the Governor General’s Award of Excellence in Teaching Canadian History.

Towards the end of the event, one of the students echoed what many students at the moving presentation were feeling when she said, “This is something that I’ll never forget. It shows that people do care … and I’m really grateful for all the people fighting for our future.”

–Halton Catholic District School Board