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Your Gifts in Action: War & Memory Battlefield Study Tour 2013


LCMSDS is renown for its battlefield study tour programs. These tours have brought hundreds of students and teachers to Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany to visit Canadian and international cemeteries, memorials, museums and battlefields. Years of generous support from our donors has made these tours possible, and most importantly for students, affordable.

This year LCMSDS partnered with Wilfrid Laurier University’s Faculty of Arts to offer the study tour for course credit. Eighteen undergraduate students and 4 graduate students toured select Canadian battlefields and cemeteries in an effort to gain a better understanding of the Canadian participation in the first and second world wars. The study tour focused on two elements of  both wars, specific Canadian battles themselves, and memories constructed and maintained thereafter.

Below are just some of testimonials and images students submitted to LCSMDS after the tour:

“The LCMSDS Battlefields Tour (HI346) was the most rewarding class of my undergraduate experience. At a scholarly level, HI346 familiarizes students with archival research through the soldier biography assignment. My soldier was my own great uncle, Flying Officer Harold Reid. His story was pieced-together through war records and personal letters, presented to my fellow students while in the Netherlands, and passed-along to the Reid family after the tour.

At a personal level, HI346 was an experiential study of war and society which could not be matched by a textbook or slideshow. The true cost of war is hard to convey with large, abstract numbers but it becomes overwhelmingly visceral after touring countless military cemeteries across northern Europe. Along the way I made many great friends and became involved with two co-curricular organizations. I would highly recommend HI346 to any student interested in war and society and I think that Laurier should continue to authorize funding for the invaluable opportunity to learn from Professor Terry Copp in the field.” ~ Brook Durham, WLU Undergraduate 

 

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Brook Durham assisting other students reach the upper levels of a German Coastal Battery on the coast of France.

“I found the War & Memory tour to be an invaluable learning experience. The tour certainly enriched my studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. The experience was more emotionally powerful and impactful than I could have anticipated. It has changed the way I look at history, conflict and global events. As part of the course, I had the opportunity to research and present a soldier biography, which provided me with a greater understanding and connection to the World Wars.

The tour is an experience that I will carry with me as I pursue future projects. After completing the soldier biography assignment, I was inspired to research the story of my great-grandfather’s wartime service. I would also like to return to Europe and pick up where the tour left off and visit Juno Beach as well as my great-grandfather’s grave.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to participate in the 2013 War and Memory Tour. I would absolutely recommend the tour to fellow students.” ~ Zoë Hupman, WLU Undergraduate

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Students in front of the Vimy memorial.

“It is hard to put the effects of Terry Copp’s and Matt Symes’ HI 346L – War and Memory class into words, but I will try. I have always had a passion for history and this passion has only continued to grow as my education progresses. I took HI346L in the hopes of learning more about the World Wars and for the chance to see Europe through the eyes of a historian and as a student. Even though most of us in the class knew the battles and the statistics from the wars, seeing these sights in person enhanced our understandings of the wars and the effects that they had on society, and the landscape. Our instructors taught us new ways of looking at the information surrounding the wars. We learned that there are narratives that have been overlooked during the wars because they do not conform to our vision of what the wars should be like, and by taking this class my passion towards learning more about these alternative narratives have been sparked.

This trip has not only affected my educational experience and given me clarity on the path I wish to take in my future studies, but it has also shaped who I am as a person.” ~ Luc Boisvert, WLU Undergraduate

 

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Luc Boisvert copying down the names of family members at the Vimy memorial. [Photo: Nick Lachance]

“To say that this tour is a worthwhile experience would be a vast understatement. This unique opportunity to travel to Europe to learn more about Canada’s involvement in the First and Second World Wars has not only provided new insight for my work, but also a different perspective toward memorialisation. Reading about a military engagement is one thing, but standing in the place where it was fought is entirely different. As we walked along the trench lines in Beaumont Hamel and the beaches of Dieppe, Canadian history was no longer theory, but a physical entity which we could touch and see with our own eyes. Even today, history is very much alive in these places and thanks to this battlefield and memorial tour I was able to witness it for myself.

In presenting a soldier biography and reflecting in journals, we were able to make a personal connection with the course material as well as engage in meaningful discussions on site. As a group we not only learned from our instructors and our surroundings, but from each other as well. Everyone had a different opinion to share which added another dimension to the tour. I believe this group dynamic will continue to inspire all of us throughout our time at Wilfrid Laurier University. This tour provides an invaluable platform upon which people with a passion for history can come together. It was a trip I was proud to have been a part of, and one which I wholeheartedly recommend. ” ~ Caitlin Mulroney, WLU Undergraduate


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Posted by:

Eric Reis

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Matt Baker, Senior Research Associate and Centre Coordinator
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(519) 884-0710 ext. 2080

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