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Author Topic: The Power of a Photograph  (Read 2787 times)
AndrewKulin
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« on: August 22, 2010, 04:48:49 PM »
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I thought I'd share this story with you folks.

My folks retired out to rural Alberta in 1998 and have made a new number of friends acquaintances since that time.  One of these acquaintances is an older gentleman, Garfield Johnston, a Canadian veteran of the Second World War.  Garfield served with the Canadian infantry in northwest Europe and was injured in Holland in November 1944 and did not see action again.  Garfield's older brother Wilson also served, but was not so fortunate as he was killed in action near Maldegem, Belgium on September 19, 1944.  He is buried at Adegem Canadian War Cemetery east of Bruges.  Garfield nor, if I recall correctly, any of the family, has ever visited his brother's gravesite.

Last summer my parents took our entire family out to Europe on a 3-week holiday to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.  We started the trip with a two-day visit to Ypres Belgium to visit the Great War battlefields of the Salient.  My parents had promised Garfield that we would visit his brother's grave on his behalf and take some snapshots and such, which we did of course.

I have attached a couple of the processed snapshots that I pulled together on our return to Canada, the second being a compilation of information I was able to pull from the web about Garfield's brother, including mapping images showing the location of a rapids named after Wilson (the Province of Manitoba has a "program" where they name geographic features after veterans who died in the service of their country).

In addition to these and some other photographs, we pressed a sprig of the Russian Sage (purple flowers in photo) from Wilson's grave as well as some fallen maple leaves we found at the cemetery and my parents presented these all to Garfield last September.  He was, as one would expect, greatly appreciative of all that we what we had done and so I figured that was the end of the story.  But not quite.

My Dad and my two boys (who were out visiting the grandparents for a couple of weeks), bumped into Garfield last week at a shop in town.  Garfield spoke about the photographs and told my Dad that word got out about them, that a local woman had them matted and framed for Garfield, and that they are hanging on the walls of his home.  Great, but it gets even better.

It turns out that this same woman is flying Garfield out to Holland this September, at her own expense, so that he may participate in an anniversary ceremony at a town that he helped liberate in 1944.  And, she is arranging for a car and driver to drive him down to Adegem so that he can visit his brother's grave after all these years.  All because of a photograph.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2010, 05:58:22 PM »
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Andrew,

Thanks so much for sharing this heartwarming story, and congratulations on being the catalyst that enabled it!

-Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
John R
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2010, 06:26:51 PM »
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I should read the coofee section more often. An interesting and emotional story. Only 24 years old  Sad I like the photo and the flare.

JMR
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larryg
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2010, 04:39:19 PM »
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good job (yes because of a photo but you went out of your way to do something nice for someone else  we should all try and intentionally do something nice for someone else.  Who knows what a difference it could make
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wolfnowl
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« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2010, 12:51:52 AM »
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Wonderful story, Andrew.  Thanks for sharing!!

Hugs,
Mike.
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If your mind is attuned to beauty, you find beauty in everything.
~ Jean Cooke ~


My Flickr site / Random Thoughts and Other Meanderings at M&M's Musings
AndrewKulin
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2010, 05:04:03 PM »
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An update to this story for any who are interested:

http://www.westernwheel.com/2010/news/a-soldier-returns-a-wwii-veteran%E2%80%99s-pilgrimage-back-to-europe-10284
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Rob C
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« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2010, 04:36:08 AM »
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Maybe you should have titled this thread differently, Andrew:

The power of a kind thought.

Rob C
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