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News - All - 1 Nov 2014

News Item 1718 of 3281 

1 Nov 2014

War is hell and freedom isnít free ó just a few of the lessons passed on to some 1,500 elementary school students in Waterloo last week at the local legion.

Why We Remember Week is an annual educational program presented by the K-W Poppy Fund under the auspices of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 530 in Waterloo during the third week of October and ahead of Remembrance Day to give students a better idea of why Nov. 11 is so important.

We hope you will leave here today with a better understanding of Remembrance Day and why we remember, said Ron Hinschberger, past president of the Legion, located on Regina Street.

About 1,500 students attended the program this week, the 13th year itís been held. Itís a decrease from the nearly 2,000 students that attended last year. There are morning and afternoon sessions and both are around two hours.

Hinschberger provided an overview of Canadaís military history, starting with the Boer War from 1899 to 1902 in South Africa, which saw 7,000 Canadians deployed and more than 250 killed, and he ended by discussing Canadaís peacekeeping missions abroad and combat in Afghanistan.

He provided details on key battles in the First and Second World Wars and showed photos and videos of the battlefields.

Freedom is not free, he said.

To put the number of Canadians who have died in overseas conflict into perspective for the Grade 5 and 6 students, Harvey Fry, president of Wing 404 in Waterloo, compared it to Waterloo.

About 125,000 is the total number of Canadians killed (in war), Fry said. Think of it this way, thatís everyone in Waterloo dead. Gone. That is the cost of war.

Students also laid wreaths in remembrance of soldiers killed or wounded in battle, and had the opportunity to try on authentic military gear and uniforms after the presentation.

Itís really important to remember why they died, said Grade 5 student Andrew Shawe. War might look like fun, but it isnít.

Hinschberger said the change in bell times in Waterloo has impacted the number of students who can make it to the afternoon sessions since buses had to be brought in from Stratford to bring the kids to and from the Legion. That meant only two afternoon sessions could be offered this year instead of five, and fewer students could attend.

He also lamented the shrinking number of Veterans who can attend each year to share their story of war. Only a handful of Veterans made it to Thursdayís presentation, and the Legion made it known earlier this year they may have to relocate due to falling enrollment to keep up with costs.

I can remember when both sides (of the room) were full of Veterans, Hinschberger said, reinforcing the need to educate the next generation about the price paid for freedom.

JAMES JACKSON (Chronicle)/jm

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