By Rob Vogt
This year when students, staff and family members gathered in the gymnasium at Willow Creek Composite High School for their annual Remembrance Day service, they received a very special message from a familiar face.
Corporal Brittany Gallaway of the 20th Independent Field Battery Artillery Unit in Lethbridge, and a member of the high school’s graduating class of 2012, was the guest speaker for the service held on Thursday, Nov. 9.
She opened by noting she has been in the service seven years.
“It’s a privilege and pleasure,” she said.
Every November Canadians pause to reflect on the service and sacrifice of soldiers, sailors and aviators, remembering the courage and strength they showed.
All of this was to protect values such as democracy and freedom.
Canada has a long history of military service.
“All of us who have served are bonded together,” Gallaway said, adding their common goal is to help those in need.
She then asked everyone to imagine what it would have been like.
Men would leave home to serve overseas. It would be months before the families they left behind received a letter about how the servicemen were doing. Then it would be months between letters.
This left families just wondering.
“That was the reality,” Gallaway said.
“Canadian military history is inspiring and often heart wrenching,” she continued, adding the only way things have really changed is how war is fought.
Now, war is also waged with social media and disinformation.
Gallaway also talked about why people serve.
“To know we make a difference, that makes it all worthwhile,” she said. “We are honoured to join a long line of veterans.”
Canadian history is marked by service in the First and Second World Wars; Korea; Afghanistan; peacekeeping; and more.
The reason for joining the military are diverse as the people in it, but they are united in trying to contribute to making a prosperous world.
Gallaway turned her attention to the Korean Conflict and the Battle of Kapyong, fought from April 22 to 25, 1951.
A total of about 700 soldiers in the Canadian Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and soldiers from Australia watched as soldiers from China massed.
Night fell, and they found themselves surrounded, alone, and outnumbered.
Their commanding officer called in the artillery and, after 10 hours of fighting, they had established a defensive position.
In the battle, 10 Canadians were killed and another 23 were injured.
It was one of the first battles in which Canadians participated during the Korean War.
Gallaway said that conflict has been called the “Forgotten War”.
Yet Canada made a significant contribution.
“It is up to each of us to share the stories,” Gallaway said. “So they are not forgotten.”
It is also the 75th anniversary of Canadian peacekeeping.
Canadians have served on peacekeeping missions in places such as Cyprus, the Congo, and the Suez.
“Often at great personal risk,” Gallaway said.
The armed forces are also ready to help Canadians in Canada, such as this past summer which saw the worst season of wildfires.
“I’m proud to serve the Canadian armed forces,” Gallaway said. “I’m proud to serve Canada and I’m proud to serve all of you.”
By Rob Vogt