Teens from Normandy honour SDG Highlanders

Image of Shawna O'Neill
By Shawna O'Neill
Teens from Normandy honour SDG Highlanders
Anna Mainhagu of France happy to have received a poppy from a Veteran to wear during the ceremony. Shawna ONeill/Seaway News photo.

CORNWALL, Ontario – Lynn Kyte, former Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlander LT, once heard that the war resonates differently with individuals who live in Normandy, France, as they grew up on the soil that literally and figuratively holds pieces of our country.

About 30 teens and young adults from France made their way to Cornwall on Monday, July 22 to lay a wreath at our cenotaph, along with shingles from beaches surrounding Juno Beach (D-Day) and read 5,000 names of the 47,000 Canadian soldiers who were killed during battle in the Second World War, starting with the fallen SDG Highlanders.

Kyte, among other attendees, agreed that the act of preserving this history through reciting individuals names is an admirable and noble act, especially for young adults.

“It’s very important that, even though they didn’t grow up during the war, the presence and remnants of war are all around them…they grew up learning it,” said Kyte, referring to how infantry shrapnel and unexploded ordnance can still be found in grounds and gardens across Europe today. “They have to worry about that, they have to think about that…you don’t have that here.”

The young readers are a part of Westlake Brothers Souvenir Association, an organization formed in 2006 that is dedicated to paying homage to sacrifices given by Canadians during the war. Each ceremony is organized by the young members, and their travels are supplemented by funds they raise to keep this history prominent and valued.

“When we found out they were coming here to Ontario, we made it our mission to show support to them…it means that much to them to do it, so it means something to me to come here and listen,” said Kyte, who visited a ceremony in France last fall organized by the same association. The ceremony took place in Ben-Sur-Mar graveyard where 144 Glens were buried, and involved tear-evoking candle lighting, songs and poetry at dusk.

The association members arrived in Cornwall around 4 p.m. yesterday where they conducted a thoughtful ceremony which lasted several hours. They are making their way across Ontario and Quebec, stopping in cities and towns along the way, and will make their way back to France on August 5.

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