American and Canadian families unite at border for ceremony honouring fallen soldiers
Published Saturday, December 8, 2018 6:34PM AST
American Gold Star Mothers and Canadian Silver Cross families came together at the St. Stephen border Saturday morning for a ceremony that aims to bridge a shared understanding of each other’s loss.
“Our two countries are inseparable in so many different ways, and today we share in our loss which only makes us stronger,” said Ken Stannix, father of Master Cpl. Christopher Stannix.
Operation HART, which stands for "honouring allies and remembering together," began at the St. Stephen, N.B., border crossing in 2007. There are now 14 border crossing communities participating, from Maine right up to Alaska.
“Our fallen heroes are looking down on us today with very much pride as we come together and exchange these wreaths,” said Becky Christmas, National President of the American Gold Star Mothers.
The wreath exchange sees the American families give wreaths to the Canadian families in a powerful act of remembrance. Families that share not only a border, but a deep understanding of what it means to lose someone you love in the line of duty.
The mother of Private David Greenslade, a Canadian soldier killed in 2007 in Afghanistan says this is a chance for families to share and support one another.
“We come every year to be surrounded by people who have lost a loved one in war, they know exactly how we feel and we’re a blessing to each other,” said Laurie Greenslade.
Amy Moore and Becky Christmas met for the first time four years ago after a helicopter crash that killed Moore’s husband and Christmas’ son, and say the forged a friendship out of the tragedy.
“They were on a Black Hawk helicopter leaving Fort Hood early morning on November 29th, the Monday after Thanksgiving in our country,” says Christmas. “There was a heavy fog and they hit a communication wire close to the tower, and all seven perished on the helicopter.”
This event also marks the beginning of wreaths across America, which starts in Maine and ends in Arlington National Cemetery.
“This just sends shivers down my spine, because it’s just so special for us to be doing this together and to honour the fallen, and I know there’s just going to be so many poignant moments as we make our way down to Arlington. Just very special,” says Amy Moore.
After the ceremony on the bridge, there was a wreath laying at the cenotaph on the Canadian side in St. Stephen.
A special tradition that has continued at this border crossing for more than a decade, as a way to ensure that those who gave their lives are never forgotten.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Lyall.