Cooper Pickering visited the grave of relative Etsel Cook at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in France. Pickering etched his name onto a sheet of paper. Photo by 142 Mimico Cadets

Thinking about family on this Remembrance Day

By  Bernadette Timson, Youth Speak News
  • November 13, 2019

Remembrance Day is a time to remember all of Canada’s veterans, but it is also carries a very personal message for Cooper Pickering.

The student at Chaminade College School is related to a man who died during the D-Day invasion of the Second World War. Cpl. Etsel Cook, a member of the Queen’s Own Rifles, was 25 when he died in the days following the June 6, 1944 invasion.

Pickering was the first member of his family to have the opportunity to visit the grave at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery in France, thanks to an excursion organized by his 142 Mimico “Determination” Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

“I feel like we need to remember everyone who has done things, it’s very important to me,” said Pickering, who is a Warrant Officer First Class with the squadron.

In 2017, the 142 Mimico cadets were able to visit several First and Second World War sites in Belgium and France, including Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach, where Canadians left a lasting mark on history with their valour. The March Break trip also meant stops at Canadian and Commonwealth war cemeteries, where the cadets paid their respects to soldiers who were not much older than they are when they went into battle.

This year, the air cadets were once again front and centre for Remembrance Day celebrations. They are well aware of the responsibility the youth of today have to carry on the tradition of remembering the sacrifices of Canada’s troops in battle, from a hundred years ago right up to today.

“In general, (Remembrance Day) is very important because it allows new and older generations of Canadians to recognize and remember the people who fought for our country,” said Pickering. “That’s super important because if you grow up not knowing why we have this freedom in our country, then you really won’t have any understanding of what’s happened, so to me, I think it’s very important to know our past and how we got to where we are today.”

The sacrifices of Canada’s troops for the cause of freedom is never far from the thoughts of Bill Macaulay, a retired Leading Air Craftsman for the Royal Air Force. He has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for 49 years and offered some words of advice for young people.

“What we have today was bought and paid for at great price by young men and women who took up the arms during the Second World War and if it wasn’t for their contribution, there is no way, no way, shape or form that we would have what we have today,” Macaulay said.

“I would say honour those that went before you and give the respect that they deserve.”

(Timson, 21, is finishing her Event Management studies at Humber College in Etobicoke, Ont.)

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