Veteran from Afghanistan speaks to St. Aug. students

Remembrance was in the spotlight for St. Augustine last week with a special guest highlighting the importance of remembrance.

Cpl. Samantha McCargar speaks to students at St. Augustine Catholic School Nov. 9 about her experience fighting in Afghanistan. She highlighted the differences from Canada to Afghanistan.

Cpl. Samantha McCargar speaks to students at St. Augustine Catholic School Nov. 9 about her experience fighting in Afghanistan. She highlighted the differences from Canada to Afghanistan.

Remembrance was in the spotlight for St. Augustine Catholic School last week with a special guest highlighting the importance of remembrance.

Held Nov. 7, the Remembrance Day ceremony was organized by the Grade 9 students who showcased the special symbols of remembrance. Among them the Canadian Flag as a symbol of respect, the poppy as a memorial symbol, the wreath representing an everlasting circle and the lighting of candles to symbolize prayer.

Among the speakers was Cpl. Samantha McCargar, who was an infantry soldier with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry First Battalion in Afghanistan.

For McCargar, the experience showed her how different the two countries are. During her tour, McCargar was a driver in a light armoured vehicle. McCargar’s and other staffs job was to see where they could assist with developing schools for children.

Most of the children were unable to go to school despite a strong desire to take in classes, she explained. “Girls were not allowed to go to school. Boys were only allowed to go. Not so bad here hey?”

Among the other cultural differences was that if a woman went to jail for an offence such as theft, then her children would have to come with her.

“In Kandahar the kids go with the women,” she explained.

McCargar also took some time to explain the definition of wars and how they are created. “War is never a good thing because some people get hurt and some people are killed and it all costs us in many ways.”

“But sometimes wars have to be fought because we have to protect ourselves,” she added.

She is proud of Canada’s policies with regard to war and to the protection of innocent lives. Add to that the work and dedication of past soldiers has ensured citizens’ freedoms.

“Canada is where it is today because of the sacrifices made by the soldiers before us,” she said.

Being a driver had its challenges as McCargar had only three specific boxes she could see through. “I had to really trust my fellow soldiers on top of my vehicle to direct me and tell me what was going on around me.”

Among the risks of her duty was the potential of roadside bombs. McCargar presented some photos from her tour in a slideshow, among them the damage that can come from a roadside bomb.

“Our lives and our homes should not be taken for granted,” said McCargar.

She advises people remember that freedom is not free. “Remember the brave soldiers that gave their lives standing up for us. Lest we forget.”

Ponoka veteran Walt Burchnall also took some time to speak on his experiences during the Second World War.