Warm greetings and welcome home to all of you who joined us on this memorable tour we shared together in July.
Your presence on this very special occasion honouring the men who fought so bravely in the Italian Campaign 75 years ago was immensely appreciated.
Your family attachment to this difficult campaign was truly something to behold. Every single one of you carried so much passion, and enthusiasm - a willingness to learn, question, research, and involve yourself in every aspect of what we discovered along the way.
The Canadian Campaign in Italy was conducted in a series of difficult locations during a difficult time in the war. Nevertheless, they did not falter. Answering the call to arms as volunteers, they proudly marched off to war without concern for their well being to preserve the freedom we enjoy in this exact moment.
When a tour comes home, one of Canadian tour guides, Glenn Edmonds, likes to remind his travellers of what the former 17th century Irish Statesmen Edmund Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of Evil is for good men to do nothing”; your relatives sacrificed everything to insure this didn’t happen, and because of that we honour each and every one of them forever.
Our journey together had many highlights, and also a wide range of emotions. To tell someone after arriving home your experiences can be difficult to convey to another.
Seeing the Commonwealth Cemeteries with your own eyes for the first time is breathtaking. It all looks so peaceful today, but they hold a dark and deadly past dotted by hundreds of cemeteries reminding one of the carnage that reigned a mere 75 years ago. But perhaps... no words can describe the feeling one gets when standing on the shores Pacino, or at the Gradara Military Cemetery, or in the town of Cassino. To be there as a Canadian imagining the horror of war your family members experienced firsthand leaves one grasping to find words that can truly explain how it feels inside yourself. Our team personally finds the words ‘grateful’, ‘proud’ and ‘honoured’ to be a few to describe it. Grateful for my freedom, proud to say I’m Canadian like they are, and honoured to have been there with all of you, remembering all of them.
We truly walked in the footsteps of your family members, perhaps the greatest act of remembrance we can offer to them. In designing a tour such as this it takes many planned steps with hard work being the consistent factor to insure its success. This hard work was provided by not just us but equally yourselves.
The foresight and drive we all shared on the ground together is inspiring. We all greatly appreciate all of their efforts leading up to and during this momentous occasion - from the Operation Husky team, to our drivers, to the restaurant managers, to the hotel staff, to museum staff like Prof. Giovanni - everyone has come together with an exceptional passion to make this important tour a special one.
Many others shared stories and information known to few about their loved ones in uniform. This added greatly to our understanding of these men before, during, and after the Campaign. For those whose voices cannot be heard and laid down their lives that day in the war are now peacefully resting in the Canadian War Cemeteries and Memorials across the Italian countryside.
In closing I would like to thank my dad, Ian Cowan, for his constant hard work, experience and drive to take on and bring tours of this magnitude to the forefront. I consider myself fortunate to be working alongside him, sharing our passion for this subject with people like you.
I would also like to express my gratitude to each and every one of you. Anyone, at anytime, is free to go alone to where we just visited but to do it embraced together as we did is truly special and can’t be forgotten. Thank you for your valued presence and may we all spread the message of remembrance as we journey forward.
Non dimenticheremo, we won’t forget.
Sincerely, Samantha Cowan
Want to watch a Video of Pino's Speech to us in Cassino? - Click Here to Watch
Samantha Cowan has been an active member in the Battlefield Tours team for more than a five years, but it could be argued that she's been working with the Battlefield Tours her whole life, as her father, Ian Cowan, began leading the way for better understanding and tourism policy along the Canadian Battlefields only a few years before she was born. A Lead Battlefield Guide for the Battlefield Tours of Canada since 2013, Sam has been working alongside our team, leading and managing tours to France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, - this has been her first experience on the Italian Battlefields and plans and hopes to provide more Italian Battlefield Tours in the future. For more, please visit us:
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