November 11: not just another day
Every November since his retirement from the Canadian Forces, SAIT refrigeration and air conditioning student John Bartlett remembers his army buddies.
Bartlett served 15 years in the Forces with the 13th Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
In a period of three years, six of Bartlett’s comrades died serving in Afghanistan.
Those six are among the 152 members of the Canadian Forces that have died so far in Afghanistan.
“I used to coach their kids in hockey and baseball and have barbecues with them,” said Bartlett, referencing his time at Canadian Forces Bases in Gage-town N.B. and Victoria B.C.
“When you call to speak to the families … what do you say?” said Bartlett, who wears a poppy on his jean jacket to remember all those who have fallen.
Like Bartlett, other SAIT students feel a strong connection to Remembrance Day. For those with family members who are or have been in the military, Remembrance Day is more than a day off from classes or work.
“I take Remembrance Day very, very seriously,” said SAIT information and communications student Kelty Atchison.
Atchison graduated from St. Joseph High School in Edmonton, Alberta. St. Joe’s was originally an all boys’ school. During the Second World War, the school lost many of its students to the war effort.
“Even now, we are fighting for our freedom… (and) we have so much freedom… I have so much choice. So many don’t have that,” said Atchison, who added that hearing about their sacrifices changed her perspective.
SAIT legal assistant student Julia Goodridge says rather than choosing one day to remember, she wears a poppy 365 days of the year.
Her grandfather and her great uncle both served in the Second World War, and her uncle was a gunner in a bomber airplane.
“Every day we should be grateful for our freedom,” said Goodridge.
When Goodridge needs a poppy, she knows where to look. “I have a whole bunch of poppies pinned to the ceiling of my car,” said Goodridge.
SAIT’s War History
During WWII the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art, as SAIT was then called, trained wireless operators as part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
There’s a bronze plaque in the entrance of Heritage Hall commemorating PITA’s contribution to the BCATP and Canada’s war effort.