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Field of Crosses program brings war home for some Grade 7 Kelowna students

“I joined up in ’43,” said George Barr, who spent 36 years serving our country.

“Second World War, Korea, Vietnam,” said Barr.

He’s seen combat action around the world.

“I was a tank crew commander in Korea and I spent a lot of time killing people,” said Barr

When it comes to talking about his service, Barr doesn’t mince words about it.

“Young people, the closest they come to war is something on television,” said Barr.

However, Barr is helping change that, by sharing his experience with Grade 7 students as part of the Field Of Crosses program.

As part of the program, students visit the cenotaph and the new Field of Crosses memorial in Kelowna’s City Park.

Then they sit down at the Legion to listen to vets, who bring authenticity to Remembrance Day that no book ever could.

The conversation that follows is quite frank.

“What did you feel when you killed somebody?” said Olivia Treble, asking perhaps the most poignant question of all.

“You don’t . . . but when there is somebody out there shooting at you, what are you going to do? Are you going to say, hold it I’m a good looking young fella don’t shoot? That doesn’t work,” said Barr.

It’s that frankness that brings the horrors of war to life for these young people, first hand.

That frankness changes the way some students think about their own Remembrance Day experience.

“Yes, I think of it now as really horrible. I thought it wasn’t too bad, but, now that I have true information, it’s really bad,” Treble said.

“Before, I thought it was not as horrible as it sounds. But now that I know more information about it, it sounds horrible,” said student Isabella Schroeder.

It’s a provocative program, one that veterans, like George Barr, hope more students will attend.

“You can talk about it all you like,” said Barr, “but until you are actually there, and it sort of resonates in your mind, it sort of brings thing back home again.”

 

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