Students help get headstone for First World War veteran in unmarked grave
Mariam Matti, CTVNews.ca Staff with files from CTV News Atlantic
Published Sunday, November 10, 2019 9:33AM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 11, 2019 8:26AM EST
TORONTO -- A group of middle school students honoured a First World War veteran from Fredericton, N.B., after they discovered he had been in an unmarked grave for nearly 100 years.
Teacher James Rowinski and students from George Street Middle School are studying the lives of local soldiers as part of a project called The Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative (FSBHI).
While researching veterans, they came across Lt. Charles Blair, who had served for six years in the First World War. After returning from war, Blair took his own life at the age of 36 because of “shell shock”, which was a term coined to describe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
When Rowinski’s students found out that Blair had been in an unmarked grave, they decided he deserved to be honoured.
“We contacted the Last Post Fund to see if there had been a headstone erected for him and there hadn’t been,” Rowinski told CTV News Atlantic. “So they got all the work done for that and that’s why it’s here.”
In a memorial service on Saturday, The Royal New Brunswick Regiment honoured Blair, alongside his new headstone at Sunny Bank Cemetery in Fredericton.
“His story has finally come to light,” said Rowinski.
Dora Graham, a student who researched Blair’s life, said he “did a lot for the country.”
“He was really hard-working,” Graham said. “I’ve never seen someone so devoted to the country.”