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Initiave raises importance on recognizing our veterans

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Students get heartfelt history lesson with Field of Crosses

Post by Guest on Sat 15 Oct 2016, 06:10

Students get heartfelt history lesson with Field of Crosses.

October 14, 2016

What began with a few hundred white crosses in 2009 has grown to more than 3,200, all paying tribute to those who died serving their country.

“We’ve made it bigger and organized more and gotten more crosses. (My dad) was so passionate about it and so committed and it really means a lot to step in his shoes and carry on in his name,” said Laura Vanderkruk, site chair of the initiative co-created by her late father, George Bittman.

The Field of Crosses Memorial Project sees rows of crosses installed along Memorial Drive between Centre and 3rd streets N.W. It’s a massive undertaking to build, clean, name and alphabetically stack the crosses and, for the third year, students from Hillhurst School volunteered their labour. The crosses will be placed in Sunnyside Bank Park next weekend and every day, from Nov. 1 to 11, the flag is raised at sunrise and lowered at sunset, with accompanying ceremonies taking place. The public can walk among them anytime during the 11 days, which coincide with the Calgary Poppy Fund’s annual fundraising campaign and the Canadian Legacy Project’s Veterans Food Drive.

The crosses are simple, just white plastic bolted together with a flag attached. But they are deeply poignant as each is inscribed with the name, age, rank, regiment and date of death of a southern Alberta soldier killed in a conflict over the past century. For elementary-aged students, that brings home the largely irrelevant concept of war and death.

“This is terrible to see how many people died and just from this part of Alberta. It’s depressing,” said Sadie Vipond, 10, who was washing the crosses in a space donated by Raytheon Canada Limited. “I guess I feel like we still remember and their spirit lives. It’s important for people to see them.”

A classmate, Joel Van den Berg, 10, was helping bolt the crosses together and stack them.

“They fought in the war. Maybe some sacrificed themselves and others were maybe shot down. This keeps them alive in a way so we remember them.”

Hillhurst School teacher Angelo Law says involving schools in the project provides an important link to Canada’s past.

“This is their way of contributing to helping the community remember the people who fought for us. They feel like they’re positively contributing instead of just thinking about that. The kids want that active participation,” said Law.

“They get to appreciate how many people went and fought and died. To see the crosses is something concrete.”

The memorial project got its start in 2009 after a Calgary businessman, Murray McCann, saw a similar display in the U.S. After consulting with Bittman, former head of the Calgary Poppy Fund, legion representatives and city officials, the Field of Crosses was born. It has become a major gathering spot for annual Remembrance Day observances.

Vanderkruk takes great satisfaction from carrying on her dad’s legacy, especially as she feels she’s passing on a vital message to youth.

“Part of our mission is to educate the next generation so they’ll understand our freedoms are bought and paid for by the people who died and whose names are on the crosses. They’re getting it.”


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Re: Initiave raises importance on recognizing our veterans

Post by Guest on Thu 13 Oct 2016, 17:16

Very Happy


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Re: Initiave raises importance on recognizing our veterans

Post by Teentitan on Thu 13 Oct 2016, 15:37

Dr. Paul Kavanaugh you have done in 7 short years what our Canadian education system hasn't...teach our children.

The Military Trunk is a fantastic idea. With so many in the waiting list maybe there are some of us who have some of our Grandparents WW1&2 gear that could be sent to the War Museum to make up a few more boxes of history for the kids?
CSAT Member

Number of posts : 3314
Location : ontario
Registration date : 2008-09-19

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Initiave raises importance on recognizing our veterans

Post by Guest on Thu 13 Oct 2016, 14:19

Initiave raises importance on recognizing our veterans

October 13, 2016

REMEMBER. Hundreds of students from all over Canada will be in Ottawa on Remembrance Day to attend the ceremony at the National War Memorial and to learn more about our veterans and what they have done for our country.

Dr. Paul Kavanagh, founder of Operation Veteran, said he has been inviting students annually to take part in the educational activities on Nov. 11, who have fundraised and assisted with his initiative.

Operation Veteran was first started when Kavanagh and his family were at the Canadian War Museum in 2009.

He said they were behind a veteran who, when he got to the front of the line, did not have enough money to pay for his bowl of soup and coffee.

"The whole cafeteria went quiet….I had a $20 bill [to pay for his meal] but the damage was done," said Kavanagh. "I was taught by my parents don't come to the table with problems, show up with solutions. So I came up with Operation Veteran."

Operation Veteran ensures that all veterans visiting the museum would be provided a complimentary meal every day of the year.

To date, 11,000 complimentary meals have been served.

Kavanagh said to help with fundraising for the initiative he reached out to schools and explained what Operation Veteran is. The program has grown and schools from all 10 provinces and three territories are now involved.

In 2010, Kavanagh said a teacher asked him what he would like to do next with the program. He said he wanted to bring students to Ottawa and to educate.

"Veterans give so much and it's time to pay them back. My goal is to have a personal interaction for veterans and students. Students across Canada come in and interact not only with other students but with veterans."

Students fundraise to come to Ottawa, but every donation Operation Veteran receives goes directly to the veterans and to the educational programming.

This year's educational topics will be:

-100th Anniversary: Battle of the Somme

-100th Anniversary: The Royal 22 Regiment: Flers-Courcelette

-75th Anniversary: Battle for Hong Kong

-65th Anniversary: Korea-Battle of Kapyong

-10th Anniversary: Death of Captain Nichola Goddard

Speakers are brought in to address each topic and students are also given a tour of the Canadian War Museum.

"I'm proud of all these students that have been fundraising and assisting with Operation Veteran….It's important to teach students to honour and respect our veterans and the men and woman who [serve us] today."

Military Trunks

Kavanagh said a new educational program has started, which he gives full credit to the War Museum for.

Military Trunks filled with items like World War One helmets and gas masks, letters from mothers to sons, and scarfs from pilots are shipped from school to school across Canada for students to explore.

"We call it a discovery box. Every school can keep it for two weeks…I've been told it is the most successful educational program ever created by the War Museum."

In the first year of running, 585 schools received the box from coast to coast. This year 185 schools have already applied and 169 are on the waiting list.

"It allows students to relive what their grandparents went through."


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