When studying history by school students, it if often a challenging task, with the use of just the textbook. However, it can be made more exciting by bringing in a guest speaker and period historic artifacts. Such was the case recently in the Grade 6 Virden Junior High history class of term teacher Steve Densmore of Virden.
Steve and I had worked together for several years at VCI, back in the 90's, that seemed like only yesterday.
Mr. Densmore knew of my interested in Canadian Military history and asked me to come into his classroom, saying I could do a better job with my presentation and selection of historic military materials, than him reading it out of the textbook.
Three presentations would be given covering the Canadian army, navy and air force in WW2.
Over a three-week period in late April and early May, my presentations were held in the school art room giving us space between myself and the students.
The purpose of these classes was not to dwell on the horror, sacrifice and loss of life (in times of war, they, sadly, are a given) but to give the students a look into the lives of the men and women who went off to fight for Canada and the things and equipment in their everyday military life.
After each class the students had the opportunity to ask questions as I allowed them to come to the display table to handle the historic items, with the most popular being to try on the various uniforms, hats and helmets. Many were surprised by the weigh of the military wool overcoats of the WW2 period. On display also were models of the ships and planes used by Canada’s military in WW2.
At the end of each class, it was often an effort to get the students out the door as they enjoyed looking at the gear and asking more questions.
Said Mr. Densmore, “These presentations gave the students more information than I could give them on the topic. I wanted the students to get a good understanding of what the human side of war was about, and that sometimes it is a necessary evil. Also, to show the loss to everyone - not only on the battlefield but on the home front as well.”
As for me, I enjoyed getting back into the classroom and helping students learn about Canadian history in the difficult COVID times. And for the past and present members of our Canadian military services, Lest We Forget, the sacrifices they have made and the service they provide to keep us safe, even during these times of the COVID pandemic.