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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Homeowner honours veteran after receiving letter from Lakeshore students

by Adam Gault

A Windsor homeowner, who was so moved after receiving a letter from students at Lakeshore’s St. Anne’s High School about a soldier who resided at her residence at the beginning of World War II, has installed a plaque honouring his memory at the front of her home.

Homeowner, Patricia Murphy, received the letter from grade 11 students Riley Carmichael and Brayden Tessier as part of their class project “Keeping their Memory Alive,” which had students writing to various Windsor-Essex residents who had veterans that lived, deployed, and never returned, from their current addresses more than 75-years ago.

“My history teacher had these files of [local] soldiers who had signed up for the war, all of them unfortunately died at Dieppe,” Tessier explained of the project. “Our job was to look at the postal code, where they lived, information on the soldiers, and we sent out a letter to the house that the veteran lived at.”

This past November, Murphy received the letter at her Niagara Street home, informing her that Private Samuel Berger had lived at her address when he left to go overseas to serve Canada in the Second World War.

Private Berger, along with more than 900 Canadian soldiers, lost their lives August 19, 1942 during the disastrous Dieppe Raid, which was an early attempt at an Allied landing in Nazi occupied France, nearly two years prior to D-Day.

“I was super-moved, and I couldn’t just let it end there. I had to do a little bit more,” Murphy said after receiving the letter and deciding to install the plaque in Berger’s memory. “Just the fact that he was so young when he enrolled, and he left his family behind to go fight for his country. The student’s doing this project and finding this out, that’s just so special.”

The students involved in the project were blown away by Murphy’s decision to honour Private Berger, noting that the response from Murphy was beyond what they could have imagined.

“It’s nice to see that, as somebody interested in history myself, that somebody else would go to those lengths to also remember history like that,” Tessier said. “Now I look at the [local] area differently. Instead of just looking at the here and now, I realize that it’s been around and there’s so much more to see about this place.”

Murphy added that she hopes this project will inspire others to be more conscious of the history that surrounds us every day, and make a more conscious effort to remember the individual stories of those who paid the ultimate price in the liberation of Europe from tyranny.

“You can read about [the war], and see pictures, but to know that, that soldier lived in your house, walked through the same rooms and front door as you did, that’s priceless,” Murphy explained. “To know that closer connection, to see where he lived, that’s a great idea. They have to be remembered individually as well, not just as a whole.”

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