MONTREAL, JUNE 18, 2013 – In 2007, Erik Gregory, a student at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemount, had the opportunity to meet with Canadian veteran Charles Hunter during a sixth grade history project. Since then, Spiritual Care, Community Involvement and Guidance Animator Rocco Speranza and the staff at the school have held commemorative ceremonies honoring the fallen soldiers of “Operation Husky.”
In July of 1943, 25 000 Canadian soldiers of the first Canadian Infantry Division stormed the beaches at Pachino Sicily and defeated many German defenses. Although their courage brought them great success and helped turn the tide of the Second World War, 562 men lost their lives during battle. This monumental moment in history marked the beginning of the Sicilian Campaign titled “Operation Husky” and represented the first independent role for Canadian soldiers in World War II.
Over the last several years, Mr. Speranza along with the administrators, staff and students of the schools he services, have worked hard to continuously honour and remember the fallen Canadian heroes and those who presently serve our country.
A memorial campaign titled “Operation Husky 2013” will be held this July 2013 on the beaches of Pachino, Sicily commemorating the operation’s 70th anniversary and its fallen soldiers. With the help of two art teachers, Vincent Gagnon and Julie Etheridge, the Secondary I art class took part in the “school marker project.” The task was to make 562 maple leaf markers to symbolize each fallen soldier. These markers will be laid out by Erik Gregory and other Canadians along the beaches of Pachino. Vincent Massey Collegiate is the only Canadian school involved with this project.
Since undertaking the Operation Husky history project at the young age of 12, Erik Gregory has been actively involved in the school’s continuous dedication at educating the students about leadership, citizenship, remembrance, and community. On June 6 2013, Erik personally picked up the maple leaves and thanked each student for their efforts with his project.