A couple of veterans from Airdrie, Alta., are just back from Remembrance Day ceremonies they’ll never forget.
They’re now working hard to promote the importance of Canadian military history on the other side of the world.
Veterans Keith Shaw and Bob McNevin, both leaders of the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Airdrie, returned this week from commemorating the military service of Canadians at Remembrance Day events in South Korea.
“At the Busan UN cemetery, we did Remembrance Day there,” Shaw said. “We had VIP seating, in with all the generals and admirals, and we met with the South Korean minister for veterans affairs.”
The two Airdrie veterans used those meetings to promote a new way of honouring Canada’s fallen soldiers from the Korean War.
“It would bring Canadian children on an exchange program to participate in looking after the graves in Korea,” Shaw said.
It would be a program aimed at expanding the students’ knowledge of Canadian military history.
“Having the children get involved, it’s going to be very important,” McNiven said, “so that memorials like this aren’t forgotten.”
McNiven was referring to an impressive stone monument that was unveiled in Airdrie in July 2023.
The monument salutes the sacrifice and courage of Canadian soldiers at Gapyeong, the site of a major battle during the Korean War.
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“They say that battle was the turning point of the war,” McNiven said.
McNiven and Shaw visited Gapyeong during their trip to South Korea.
“I had a lump in the my throat, let me tell you that,” McNiven said.
The two men say the presence of the monument in Airdire exemplifies the important connections between Canada and South Korea.
“The city of Gapyeong donated this magnificent memorial to us — all the work was done in Gapyeong and then they sent it, at their expense, here,” Shaw said. “What a beautiful job’
The huge stone used in the monument came from one of the hillsides on which the battle was fought.
“So you imagine some of our soldiers walked on this rock,” McNiven said. “Hopefully there are no ghosts in there, but if there are they’re probably darn good ones.”
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