Christmas letters: 8th grade class gives voice to soldiers who died on D-Day

Grade 8 class honors Canadian soldiers who perished on D-Day in 1944 with a poignant Christmas writing project that also teaches students how to develop empathy.

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Grade 8 class honors Canadian soldiers who died on D-Day 1944 in poignant Christmas writing project which also teaches students how to develop empathy.


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Writing from the soldiers’ point of view on Christmas 1943, Grade 8 students at Clara Brenton Elementary School examine what they might miss at Christmas away from home in the same position .

The same soldiers would continue to play a role in one of the most significant events World War II, among the 14,000 Canadians who landed on Juno Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Those to whom the students gave the floor never came home.

“Everyone deserves a voice and this is what we have given to all of the deceased Canadian heroes who breathed their last at Juno Beach all those years ago,” said student Daniah Ali, 13.

Grade 8 teacher Chris Constantine said his students chose their Canadian soldier from a website documenting Canadians who died on D-Day. It’s a project he presents around Remembrance Day every year.


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During their research, the students learned the “heartbreaking” reality for many men – that they would not have the chance to hold their young children, born while they were in Europe, he said. he declares.

“(The soldiers) don’t know they are six months away from taking their last breath on Earth,” Constantine said. “Fate cruelly determined that this was their last Christmas letter ever to be sent to their families.”

The project allowed students to imagine what this letter might look like, Constantine said.

Soldier: Danny Cowley

Student: Malak Abou-Shamalah

“My companions and I even decided to decorate our hut with colored lights, even if it looks nothing like what it is at home. Just the thought of your famous hot chocolate and Christmas music playing in the restaurants of the city thrills me. Marie mentioned you and she has already installed the tree and the stockings!


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Although it is a “difficult” exercise, Constantine said, putting yourself in the shoes of the soldiers allows the students to gain a new appreciation for the 359 Canadian soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy that day. the.

“Some soldiers have a biography attached to their photo on the website the students researched and some of them have no information so they are written very creatively from a blank slate and come up with family names, ”he said. .

Soldier: Robert Goff

Student: Daniel Costache

“The last few weeks here have seemed like an eternity, maybe because I’m not used to being alone this time of year. I made some acquaintances of the squadron; we shared Christmas memories to cheer us up. We have only had happy times, but most of us are still afraid of the day we are sent into battle.


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Writing from someone else’s perspective is “one of the hardest things for a 13-year-old or any age to do,” Constantine said.

“My class always does a great job providing touching and emotional feelings,” he added.

Soldier: Henry Pockiluck

Student: Mohammad Zyoud

“I hate to even talk about it, but if I don’t come back, I need you to do me a favor.” I need you and Tommy to know that even though I’m not here, my love for you both has always been and always will be endless. I really think I’ll be home in time for vacation this time around next year. The feeling of being with you and Tom and having the time of our life keeps me going.


“This writing assignment was very important for our whole class because we gave these Canadian heroes who fought in the war a voice , and gratitude for the noble duty they have performed which still resonates with us all to this day. ”

– Juan-David Usma, 13 years old

“We gave the voiceless a voice. We gave a little life to the deceased.

– Ewan MacDonald, 13

“We will never forget these brave men who sacrificed so much for all of us.”

– Jonathan Letsos, 13

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