Through Blood and Sweat: A Remembrance Trek Across Sicily’s World War II Battlegrounds
Through Blood and Sweat takes readers on a memorable, thought-provoking march in the footsteps of 1st Canadian Infantry Division in 1943. During Operation Husky 2013, a group of Canadians walked this route to honour the nation’s soldiers who fought in Sicily seventy years earlier and whose sacrifice has been largely forgotten. Under a searing sun, with Mount Etna soaring high in the distance, a small contingent of marchers trekked for 15 to 35 kilometres each day along winding country roads between one village and the next. At each town they were joined by a pipe band, which led them in a parade into the community’s hear. A service of remembrance for both the Canadian and Sicilian war dead followed at each community’s war memorial. On July 30, after twenty grueling days, the marchers reached Agira Canadian War Cemetery. Here 490 of the 562 Canadian soldiers who fell during the course of Operation Husky are buried. They were joined here by almost a thousand Canadians and Italians to conduct a profoundly emotional ceremony of remembrance that ended with one person standing before each headstone and answering the roll call on that soldier’s behalf. Mark Zuehlke was one of the marchers and uses this arduous and poignant undertaking as a focal point for a contemplative look at the culture of remembrance and the experience of war. Read excerpt….