Following granddad’s steps

Jenna Light  in front of the Gwanghwamun gate of the Gyeongbokgung Palace located in downtown Seoul, South Korea.   - Contributed
Jenna Light in front of the Gwanghwamun gate of the Gyeongbokgung Palace located in downtown Seoul, South Korea.
— image credit: Contributed

Jenna Light didn’t know much about the country her grandfather fought in between 1950 and 1953.

“South or North Korea was not really on my radar before this trip,” Light admits after visiting South Korea in June.

Light was part of a group of relatives of Korean War veterans from New Zealand, Australia, Thailand and Ethiopia, and took part in a Youth Peace Camp that happens twice a year in June and July.

For a week, delegates, were paired with Korean roommates, heard lectures, toured the country and learned about Korea’s history as well as current issues.

The camp was organized to show appreciation to those who fought in the war and to maintain positive connections with veterans’ descendants.

Light says the highlight of the trip was visiting the demilitarized zone that divides the totalitarian North Korea from the democratic Republic of South Korea.

Here Light learned about the estimated 20,000 North Koreans who attempt to defect from the country annually.

Light’s grandfather Warren Byrnell, is a Korean War veteran. Since 1984, he has been a member of the Korea Veterans Association of Canada.

Through his work with the KVA, Byrnell was able to have cenotaphs commemorating the Korean War erected in Maple Ridge and in Pitt Meadows.

Byrnell is also the founding member and president of KVA Unit 69 in Pitt Meadows.

Earlier this year, Byrnell received a commendation from the Minister of Veterans Affairs for all of his war recognition efforts.

Light and Byrnell were both thanked at a recent Pitt Meadows council meeting.

July 27 has been declared Korean Veterans Day.

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