They served

Re­mem­brance Day ad­dress in­spires stu­dents.

Kenora Daily Miner and News - - FRONT PAGE - SHERI LAMB SLamb@post­

Beaver Brae Sec­ondary School stu­dents were con­fronted head on with the choices they’ll have to make in the not-to-dis­tant fu­ture dur­ing the an­nual Re­mem­brance Day as­sem­bly or­ga­nized by Todd Pen­ner’s Grade 10 his­tory class.

Af­ter the tra­di­tional mu­sic and sto­ries were com­pleted and the stu­dents stood for Last Post and two min­utes of si­lence at 11 a.m., guest speaker and Cana­dian Army vet­eran Lt. Col. Dave Fraser spoke about the im­por­tance of choices.

“The stu­dents are the next gen­er­a­tion of peo­ple who are go­ing to be the vot­ers and, God for­bid, the sol­diers who have to go [to war],” said Fraser. “They’re the ones who are go­ing to have to make those hard choices as to the fu­ture of this coun­try... like other sol­diers have in the past.”

Fraser has trav­eled around the globe since 1977 with stops in Europe, Cy­press, Africa and serv­ing in Afghanistan and Iraq, mainly in peace-keep­ing mis­sions, though that doesn’t mean the dan­ger isn’t present on a daily ba­sis.

Grow­ing up in the Rainy River District, Fraser said it was “part of the fam­ily busi­ness” to join the Cana­dian Army.

“I’ve been shot at in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent places,” added Fraser. “It is not a video game, like Call of Duty, be­cause when some­body dies next to you, you can’t press re­set and start again. It’s per­ma­nent. It is terrifying. Any soldier who has been in com­bat will say it is terrifying.”

The fear though comes when the adrenalin rush wears off and a soldier is sit­ting alone on his bed with noth­ing but his or her own thoughts of what hap­pened and what could hap­pen, said Fraser. So if it’s so terrifying, why did Fraser and all the other sol­diers do it and re­turn over and over again to com­bat?

“Cana­di­ans have al­ways stood up for what they be­lieved is right and it’s up to ev­ery Cana­dian to be as in­formed as pos­si­ble, to know that the choices we are look­ing at mak­ing are the right choices both for our coun­try and for the planet,” said Fraser. To make sure we do the right thing, the way that all of those sol­diers who have served, and in many cases paid the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice, be­lieved that they were do­ing the right thing.”

Plus, de­spite its prob­lems and faults Canada is still one of the best places to live in the world - a les­son Fraser saw with his own eyes in his trav­els.

“Yes, our coun­try isn’t per­fect and yes there are prob­lems and yes we have done things wrong in the past, but we have more po­ten­tial here then any other place in this planet,” said Fraser. “It is up to us to de­cide whether or not we make the right choice for our coun­try and make sure we make our coun­try the best pos­si­ble coun­try it can be in the fu­ture.”

Many stu­dents in the au­di­ence of Grade 7-12ers were vis­i­bly fight­ing back tears af­ter Fraser’s speech, per­haps think­ing of a loved one who once served their coun­try or know­ing that the choice of what cour­ses to take next se­mes­ter may not be the most dif­fi­cult choice they’ll face in life.

Tristin Weare, a Grade 10 stu­dent in Pen­ner’s class, helped or­ga­nize the as­sem­bly and said Fraser’s speech hit home be­cause it re­minded him of a time about seven years ago when his step­dad Todd Evans was over­seas and how it im­pacted his mom, who was liv­ing in Win­nipeg at the time.

“My mom was a lit­tle bit lonely and I sup­ported her and ev­ery­thing, but at that time she was liv­ing away from me in Win­nipeg so I wasn’t able to visit her as of­ten,” said the 15 year old. “I be­lieved he would make it back home, though at some points I was scared he might not make it and that did make me sad. I wanted him to be home and come back for sup­per and be with us.”

Weare called Fraser’s speech “pow­er­ful” and said it made him think about the choices he’ll soon be mak­ing with his life.

“I feel like I might go out to war, I wouldn’t like it of course, but I’d just want to help out my coun­try and to make sure that I can say I did help, I wasn’t just stay­ing at home and not do­ing any­thing,” said Weare.


Lt. Col. Dave Fraser spoke to Beaver Brae Sec­ondary School stu­dents about choices dur­ing a Re­mem­brance Day as­sem­bly, Fri­day, Nov. 10.

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