Remembrance Day is a time to look back and reflect on things he will never forget, said United Nations veteran Harry Kristofferson of Williams Lake.
“There are so many things you don’t want to talk about,” the 88-year-old senior said of his experiences in the Second World War.
On Nov. 11 Kristofferson will be laying a wreath at the cenotaph outside the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 39 building on behalf of all UN veterans.
It is something he’s done for many years.
As a young teenager living on a farm near modern-day Oslo, Norway Kristofferson’s family helped with the Norwegian resistance to the country’s occupation by Nazi Germany.
“We had a tent in the barn we covered in hay where we hid people,” he recalled, describing how he would help guide people on foot the two-day trip to escape to Sweden.
They’d go at night through the bush and over mountains so they wouldn’t get spotted by enemy planes flying overhead.
“I had lots of close calls, but I survived.”
Every year there is a reunion of people who helped out with the resistance and Kristofferson had hoped to go in 2019.
“It didn’t work out, but I heard my name came up,” he said, chuckling.
After the war he enlisted in 1952 at the age of 18 for two years of compulsory service with the Norwegian Army and was stationed in Germany.
He remained with the Norwegian Army until 1957 when he emigrated to Vancouver, B.C. where his uncle was living.
“I came to Canada fully trained and contacted the Canadian Army letting them know I would be willing to serve.”
While on the Coast, which he didn’t really enjoy, a friend told him that Williams Lake was a nice place so in 1959 he moved.
In Williams Lake he worked initially for Carlson Construction and helped build the nurses’ residence, golf course and curling rink.
He also taught carpentry at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George while he was working in Fort St. James, something he also did in Norway.
Looking back over his life, Kristofferson said he really did not have a childhood.
He was working by the time he was 13 years old and had his masters in carpentry by the time he was 17.
“I wasn’t the only one, it’s just the way it was.”
Proud to be a Canadian, Kristofferson showed off a certificate of appreciation he received from the federal government for his role in the Second World War.
He’s also been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion since 1974, something else he is equally proud of.