Never forget the sacrifices veterans have made to protect Canada’s freedom.
This was the message from a panel of Canadian veterans who were speaking to Grade 10 students at Our Lady Of Lourdes Catholic High School in Guelph on Wednesday morning.
The annual discussion in the school’s library during the week of Remembrance Day gave students a unique opportunity to hear directly from veterans who served in the various military and peacekeeping operations Canada has been involved in.
“You must remember that freedom comes at a great price,” Eleanor Freeman told the audience of about 100 students.
Freeman served with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in the Second World War and also lost two of her brothers.
“We paid a huge price for our freedom. A huge price,” she said. “Please remember.”
Freeman, who will celebrate her 95th birthday on Thursday, was flanked by eight other veterans, including three who served in the Second World War.
Bill Winegard served in the Navy and told students they were fighting two enemies.
“One was worse than the other. We were fighting the Germans, but we were also fighting the North Atlantic [Ocean], he explained.
“Nothing is worse than being in the North Atlantic and taking what nature provides you — horrible seas, never a break.”
The panel also featured veterans from the Korean War, the Vietnam War and peacekeeping operations.
Frank Bayne described the Korean War as a “dirty war.”
He said there were times when the only way to stop attacking enemies was to call in artillery fire on their own troops.
“I remember one night we had to call down fire on our own troops and my unit alone fired 1,400 rounds,” he said.
There were also two empty seats for a pair of regulars who have sat on the panel previously but have since passed away, Steve Nessner and Frank Taylor.
BELOW: Handwritten copy of ‘In Flanders Field’ in Montreal archives
Lourdes teacher Paul Zuccala said the panel helps students understand the importance of the sacrifice veterans have made.
“There is sometimes that concern and that question on our part about whether or not they are being remembered and I think this a nice bit of morale,” said Lourdes teacher Paul Zuccala.
The seminar ended with each student shaking the hand of every veteran.