War brings conflict, pain and loss but sometimes nations pull their forces together against a common enemy.
Remembering the efforts of those soldiers has become a national source of pride and schools around the country gathered last week to get some perspective. A Remembrance ceremony was held at St. Augustine Catholic School Nov. 6 with one veteran speaking of the Forgotten War, otherwise known as the Korean War.
Legion member and Korean War veteran, George Streeter, gave students a first-hand perspective of his experience in 1950. “I’ve seen them build highways over there and I never saw any bulldozers or earthmovers or anything like that. Everything was done by hand.”
Although there were some differences in technology, Streeter found Koreans to lead similar lives to his and his friends’. “We certainly found the Korean people to be normal to us. Country style people, and people were taking advantage of them to the north.”
The biggest thing he noticed was many children appeared to be fat and overweight. He found out the issue was malnutrition.
“Someone said, ‘They are hungry. Their stomachs are bloated from hunger. This is a war zone,’” explained Streeter.
Although he reminisced fondly of his time, he lost friends in that war. Upon returning to Canada, rather than receive a warm welcome, soldiers were not recognized. “That’s why they call it the Forgotten War.”
Student Brittany Lange also spoke about a school trip to Europe last year. She and other students visited Vimy Ridge and other memorial sites. “Stepping on Juno Beach was a life-changing experience for me.”
She found the calmness of the beach a stark contrast against the devastation and death on D-Day. The June 6, 1944 invasion of Normandy was a massive operation that resulted in the loss of many allied soldiers’ lives.
“The Canadians’ were given the responsibility of taking one of the beaches in which they codenamed Juno,” explained Lange.
Despite the many years that have passed since the invasion, the tour gave her strong feelings of foreboding and is difficult to forget. Lange toured the Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany. This was one of the first concentration camps and served as a model for future camps, she added. “In the 12 years of its existence, over 200,000 people from all over Europe were imprisoned here. More than 41,500 of them died.”
The camp was a stark reminder to Lange, who remembers a sign at the entrance of the camp that states, “Work will set you free.” The only freedom many of those in the camp had was when they died, she explained.
“I truly learned a new respect for the people that laid down their lives for us,” she said.
Honouring the fallen and living soldiers is an important part of Lange’s understanding and she was grateful for their sacrifices.