Former War Amps CHAMP remembers veterans who impacted her generations later

·4 min read

Morgan Frey took the chance for a time of quiet contemplation.

Ahead of the poignant ceremonial of this Thursday’s Remembrance Day observance at the Aurora Cenotaph and Peace Park, the local woman stepped up to the Altar of Sacrifice, a lasting reminder of residents of Aurora, King and Whitchurch who paid the ultimate sacrifice for King & Country during the Second World War, to reflect on the work of veterans and how they continue to have an impact on her life today.

Ms. Frey is a life-long member of The War Amps. Born a multiple amputee, she knows first-hand the positive impact the organization has on families across the country each year.

Founded more than 100 years ago by servicepersons wounded in the First World War, Ms. Frey says the War Amps not only provided her parents with the vital supports they needed having no indication their baby would be born a multiple amputee, but fellowship with boys and girls, men and women, who have followed and continue to follow a similar path.

“My parents had no idea I was going to be born like this, but they helped them, supported them, and showed them where to go and who to be in contact with,” she says. “For me, it was nice to connect with other children [in similar circumstances], making connections and giving us the support we needed. It was nice for me to grow up with my group of friends and be able to talk with them about amputee stuff. I could talk to my other friends as well, but they don’t really understand it. It was being part of something and knowing people understood.”

Ms. Frey paid this forward by being an active member of the War Amps CHAMP (Child Amputee) program and although she has aged out of that level, she continues to be involved in the organization, including their Operation Legacy program – which brought her to the Cenotaph last week.

Operation Legacy sees members “take up the torch” of remembrance commemorating the sacrifice of all who served, as well as those who came together to found the War Amps.

Operation Legacy members also work to educate the public about the realities of war, “ensuring an accurate and unbiased account” of Canada’s military heritage. They also focus on delivering a “message of hope” for the future.”

“Even though I am no longer considered a CHAMP because I am an adult now, it is nice to still be a part of it and do something,” she says. “Without the veterans we wouldn’t have War Amps and there wouldn’t be programs to help us and children like me. It’s nice to remember our history, remember what has come before us, and who fought for the country we live in.

“It is amazing to take in everything at the Cenotaph, to remember, and to see how far we come. I know it sounds cheesy to say, ‘Take it all in,’ but you don’t really stop and think about it until someone says, ‘stand and think about this for a moment’ that you really grasp what happened, who was there, and what it all stands for.”

When she speaks at events related to the War Amps, Ms. Frey relishes the opportunity to tell her story and what, to her, the organization truly stands for. A writer, playwright and actress who has spent the bulk of the pandemic developing a knitting side-hustle, she is eager to tell parents that with a little bit of help – and that initial support from veterans – that anything is possible for kids like her.

“I tell them I was a dancer and I used to figure skate,” she says, suggesting that these factoids are greeted by an occasional sense of surprise. “They realize their child isn’t limited to things. ‘My kid can dance?’ If that’s what they want, yeah! It’s sharing my experiences. Tying shoes is a big thing for arm amputees, so I show them my way of tying shoes. The War Amps is very big about wearing your artificial limbs, but in the summer it does get very hot. It is letting parents know that if it does get too hot, don’t force them to wear it and it’s okay to take them off in the summer and not be uncomfortable.

“Through the War Amps, you build a life-long friendship. It is nice to be a part of something and not feel left out of it in an able-bodied world. It is nice to know people who are similar to you.”

For more information on the War Amps, visit waramps.ca.

Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran

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