Thursday, November 11, 2010

True Patriot Love

Today, at the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month, Canada and many other countries around the world will honour our war heroes with two minutes of silence. I'd like to tell you about how we Canadians also honour our men and women who have lost their lives while on mission in Afghanistan.

In southern Ontario, there is a 172 kilometre (107 mile) stretch of our main Highway 401 between Canadian Forces Base Trenton and Toronto. It is along this route that our citizens pay tribute to our fallen soldiers as they return home for the final time.

It began in 2002, when the first of our servicemen who died in Afghanistan was repatriated. In the city of Oshawa, a few dozen citizens and police officers gathered upon an overpass to salute as the hearse passed underneath. They were there to show their respect, gratitude and support.

As Canada endured more losses in Afghanistan, this movement grew. More and more civilians, veterans, police and firefighters gather and wait on the many overpasses along this long stretch of highway to honour our fallen. From children to the elderly, and every age in between, they appear from all walks of life, and wait for hours through all kinds of weather to show their pride, respect, and sorrow for the fallen, and support for their families. In silence, the procession drives by, beneath the many overpasses which are lined by people - hands over hearts, who salute and wave flags in tribute.

This stretch of Canada's busiest Highway 401 has officially since been named The Highway of Heroes.

There are many poignant images in the video below, which I found on YouTube. The song Highway of Heroes was written and performed by the Canadian band The Trews and can be purchased through iTunes. Net proceeds go to the Canadian Hero Fund which provides scholarships to the families of fallen soldiers.

(If you're reading this post via email, you'll have to click on my blog to see the video)

By Remembrance Day 2008, we had lost 97 of our sons and daughters in Afghanistan, and I listed these soldiers names then. By April, 2009, we lost 20 more and their names appear here. In May of 2009, my son, Jeffrey wrote a blog post for me about what it means to him to be a soldier and at the bottom of that post, I designed an image showing the 117 faces of our lost soldiers blended with our Canadian Flag. That post and image can be seen here. By this time last year, we lost an additional 16 men and women in Afghanistan and the numbers totaled 133. Their names are here.

Today, too many more names have been added to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Our number of fallen now total 152. The additional 19 names since last November are below.

Lieutenant Andrew Nuttal, 30 • Sergeant George Miok, 28 • Corporal Zachery McCormack, 21 • Private Garrett William Chidley, 21 • Sergeant Kirk Taylor, 28 • Sergeant John Wayne Fraught, 44 • Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker, 24 • Corporal Darren James Fitzpatrick, 21 • Private Tyler William Todd, 26 • Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake, 37 • Private Kevin Thomas McKay, 24 • Colonel Geoff Parker, 42 • Trooper Larry Rudd, 26 • Sergeant Martin Goudreault, 35 • Sergeant James MacNeil, 28 • Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht, 34 • Private Andrew Miller, 21 • Sapper Brian Collier, 24 • Corporal Brian Pinksen, 21

The photos and stories of all 152 men and women lost since 2002 can be found here.

Please remember your duty and privilege to honour our heroes with two minutes of silence.

To the many who have made the ultimate sacrifice, thank you.

Lest we forget.


Frank Baron said...


VM Sehy Photography said...

Wow! We need to do something like that here. It's very inspiring to the see the photos of all the people on the overpasses.

Tomorrow they will have a presentation at my son's school. Every year our gym teacher puts together a slide show of all the veterans that are related to the kids at the school. My Dad's navy picture is in it. He served in WWII. She also asks any veterans that can make it to attend.

I'm so glad they do that. Kids need to be brought up to respect people who wear a uniform.

Pauline said...

That is a beautiful, beautiful post! I've read of you Highway of Heroes before and think it is just wonderful how you give thanks to your war dead.

Dawn said...

Awesome and thoughtful post.
I will Remember.

Reb said...

Wonderful post Hilary. Very moving video and song. Love your photographs. And, yes, I will be remembering as well.

Zuzana said...

Your images and your writing is very poignant, dear Hilary.
Beautiful tribute to all those men and women that give so much to bring peace and better future to complete strangers.
Eloquent and passionate post my dear friend.
Thank you so much for you lovely words at Laura's, I appreciate you stopping by.;)

Sueann said...

Beautiful post and an awesome tribute to our fallen heroes!!!! The Highway of Heroes is so inspiring. Brought me to tears. I can't begin to express the gratitude I feel to all those who serve and for those who have given their lives for my freedom. All I can say is thank you

Merisi said...

Very touching tribute, Hilary!

Anvilcloud said...

I was driving along that highway once when they were up there waiting to pay tribute to some fallen soldier.

Brian Miller said...

yes. thank you . and to the families that support them from home allowing them to do it...thank you as well..

Laura said...

This is such a powerful post hilary.

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Such a moving, thoughtful tribute dear Hilary. Thank you!

Steve Gravano said...

Wow, now that my eyes are dry, what a wonderful post and tribute. I don't know how I missed your son's guest appearance May 10, 2009 the first time, but it was good to read it this morning as well as the other links. God bless Jeffery and all the allied armed forced that put themselves in harms way for our freedom.

Cricket said...

Yep. Remembering you and yours, as well as mine, today, and especially your own Soldier-Boy.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful shots! But it saddens me that we think we can solve our problems with violence and wars.

blunoz said...

Absolutely beautiful photos as always Hilary. Loved the video, too. Many thanks to all Canadians who have stood by us shoulder-to-shoulder from WWI to the present, and thanks for your son's service, too.

Leah J. Utas said...

Remembering doesn't seem like enough, but it's something everyone can do.

MaggieGem said...

Wonderful tribute Hilary, thank you for sharing!

The very list we can do is remember the those who've made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom!

DJan said...

Thank you, Hilary, for this post. And thank you, Canada, for your sacrifice. The Highway of Heroes is a wonderful way to remember our fallen sons and daughters.

the Bag Lady said...

This made me cry.

Kerri Farley said...

A Fantastic Tribute!

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

A good reminder, Hilary. Very well done. Especially loved the photos of the uniform.

Anonymous said...

Wiping the tears from my eyes and joining you in saluting all of our veterans, on both sides of the border.
Thank you, Hilary, and please thank Jeffrey for me.

Unknown said...

just a few minutes before 11 , and wanted to see what you had posted.
I am blown away.
There is much to all of this.. I wish it wasn't necessary , and it's complicated, but it is a reality nonetheless.

thank you Hilary.

carmilevy said...

I drove this very stretch of road on my way home from Montreal this week, and felt the need to slow down and absorb the significance of this place.

We need to do more to value what they have done and continue to do for us. We can't afford to take them for granted.

Thank you, Hilary, for the apt, timely and beautifully nuanced reminder.

CorvusCorax12 said...

thank you for your kind word...i wish your Son all the best and a save return ♥

Suldog said...

A wonderful post, Hilary, and a great testament to how noble and grand my neighbors to the north can be. The Highway of Heroes is truly a magnificent thing.

May God bless them all, and their families.

Rosaria Williams said...

Beautiful Remembrances!

Daryl said...

Wonderful post .. there was when I started blogging a wonderful woman, also a Canadian, who brought The Highway of Heros to my attention ... do you remember a woman who always posted pix of teddy bears?

Mental P Mama said...

Amen, Hilary. Beautiful post.

Susie @ A Slice of My Life said...

Wow...what a powerful post and a wonderful way to honor all of those men and women. I love the idea of having a Heros Highway. (although I wish we could do away with the need for one)

Brenda Pruitt said...

What a lovely tribute! Your photos are always so wonderful.

Maggie May said...

Yes..... this happens here too.
What a beautiful post and marvellous photos.
I will always remember them and be grateful.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Karen said...

Hilary, I remember seeing that on the TV, too. That same highway.

Thank your son for serving and when you see him, give him a hug from me.

Tabor said...

Well written. Peach be to all Canadians.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Wonderful tribute, Hilary - thanks
Hugs ~ Eddie

Paul C said...

This is a moving tribute to the honoured war sacrifices. Rick Mercer this week encouraged us all to pay that two minute tribute as well.

solarity said...

Thank you, Hilary.
Mary Anne in Kentucky

SandyCarlson said...

Heart-rending and beautiful. I often think that the beauty and splendor of the dress uniforms is meant to match the beauty and splendor of these souls. There is something ineffable, grand about these men and women. Where words fail, the look and gesture speak for the soul. May we honor them always.

Hilary said...

• Thanks for reading, Frank.

• VM, that's a wonderful tradition your son's gym teacher coordinates. Good for her. You're so right that our kids need to remember. I believe they will.

• Pauline, thanks very much. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

• Thank you kindly, Dawn.

• Thanks very much, Reb. I know you will.

• Thank you, Zuzana. It's the least I could do - to acknowledge our heroes.

• SueAnn, I feel the same way. I appreciate your kind words. Thanks for stopping by.

• Thank you, Merisi.

• AC, I hope there's never a reason to use the highway this way again but it would be an honour to be part of such a tribute.

• Thank you very kindly, Brian. Much appreciated.

• Thank you, Laura.

• Thanks kindly, Bonnie

• Steve, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. They mean a lot to me.

• Cricket, I thank you, my friend.

• LadyFi, thank you. I don't think we're trying to solve problems with violence. We're trying to make the world a safer place for those in need.

• Kevin, thank you kindly. And right back to yourself who has served so proudly.

• You're right, Leah. It doesn't. But it's the least we can do.

• MaggieGem, thank you very much. Right you are.

• DJan, thank you kindly. I'm happy to share. Thanks for reading.

• Hugs, to you, Baggie. It always gets to me too.

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Kerri.

• Thanks, Linda. That's my son on his day of his day of graduation and commissioning this past May.

• Thank you so much, KC. I will indeed. And to you and yours, my friend.

• Deb, thank you. I agree with you about complicated necessities and I'm touched that you stopped by to read.

• Carmi, I passed through this area often, this summer and always feel the same thing. Thank you so much for your kind and gentle words.

• Twain12, I saw your comment on Carmi's blog and immediately felt such heartache for you. Your dear son, Trooper Patrick James Pentland will always be remembered and appreciated for his great sacrifice in Afghanistan. For this we will always be grateful. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for your kind words.

• Thanks kindly, Suldog. We are privileged to have such wonderful neighboUrs and friends as well.

• Thank you, Lakeviewer.

• Daryl, thanks. We've since discussed this at length and you've come up with the name Bear Naked. I remember her blog but I wasn't a regular.

• Thank you kindly, MPM.

• Susie, I hear you. If only the need wasn't there. Sadly, it is though, and I'm glad we do give our heroes this honour. Thanks for stopping by.

• Brenda, thanks very much. I'm glad you stopped by.

• Maggie May, thank you kindly. Very much appreciated.

• Karen, thank you very much. I will indeed.

• Thank you, Tabor. Peace (and peaches if you prefer) to you, as well.

• Thanks for stopping by, Eddie.

• Thanks very much, Paul. Every Canadian should.

• I'm glad you stopped by, Mary Anne.

• Sandy, you never fail to say the perfect thing and always with such poetic beauty. Such a lovely thing to say. Thank you, my friend.

Shammickite said...

The first time I saw the crowds on the Highway of Heroes, we were getting onto the 401 at Bowmanville heading west. I couldn't imagine why all those cars and trucks were parked there, and all those people milling about. Then as we drove further west, there were people on every overpass and along the highway service roads, all with Canadian flags. I thought it must be the Prime Minister, or perhaps Royalty paying a visit. This was quite early in the conflict. It wasn't until I got home and saw the TV news that I realised what was happening.
Thank you to our servicemen and women who wear a military uniform and who put themselves in danger.
Hugs to you Hilary. I know that this is a subject dear to your heart.

Shammickite said...

I watched the Ottawa Remembrance Day service on TV today and cried all the way through it.

sage said...

Nice post--I have written a couple places about friends who had a son wounded in Afghanistan. By luck with the skill of battlefield surgeons, he made it out alive. But another kid from the area did and folks lined the highway from the airport to the church where his service was at (20 miles) with flags. Our gratitude goes out for all who serve

Claudya Martinez said...

This is a wonderful post and well deserved tribute.

ds said...

A wonderful tribute. A heartfelt civilian salute to your fallen men and women, and to their families.

We must always remember.

messymimi said...

Thank you. It is inspiring to see how people from many places honor their heroes.

May we never forget.

Dave said...

Hilary, an excellent memorial blog to Canadian service-people who have lost their lives in Afghanistan. I mourn with you for the loss of your soldiers, as well as those service-people of the many other nations involved, including NZ. I hate war and the futility of it. - Dave

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful testament to your veterans! Remembering ours and yours this week.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Thanks for posting! So much I didn't realize about Canada's history...Patriotism is so strong in every country. Beautiful photos as well. Thanks also for your comment on my Veterans Day post.

Dianne said...

thank them indeed!

beautiful post Hil

on a different and totally meaningless subject - the radio show can be listned to anytime - it stays up on their show site, just follow the link on my post

love ya
and hugs to your Jeffrey

Nick said...

Very nicely done Hilary.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Well put sister!

Sorry I haven't posted. I was gonna do a post in remembrance my Dad I lost just over a month ago. I chose the song and lost it! Hit me like a ton of bricks.

Yesterday I had to travel to the big city to take my MIL to the Dr. and for a MRI.

Today I've been going through and organizing pictures of my Dad to put together a slide show for his memorial in Jan. 'Did pretty well so hopefully I'll get it together enough to post soon.

Thanks for hangin' in there with me sweetie.

God bless and have an extraordinary weekend!!!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

A beautiful post. Your son, and all those that serve and have served, honored.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post Hilary. Heartbreaking. But we must never forget.

Hilary said...

• Thank you so very kindly, Shammie. It must be quite a sight to behold. I hope there's never a need for another occurrence such as this but it would truly be an honour to stand with these civilians to show our respect. Thanks so much for stopping by to share. And yes, it was a very touching ceremony. It always is.

• Sage, I'm so pleased to hear that your friends' son was ultimately alright. So sad for those families whose sons or daughters did not make it out alive. There is little doubt though that most Canadians care, remember and respect those who serve. Thanks for stopping by.

• Mami, thanks so much. I'm glad you think so.

• DS, thank you. Yes, we must indeed always remember.

• MessyMimi, thank you. It truly is an inspiration.

• Dave, thank you kindly. Of course there are indeed soldiers from all over who sacrifice for their countries. Hopefully their citizens everywhere will honour their heroes too. Thanks for the visit.

• Barbara, thank you kindly. May we all remember.

• Elizabeth, thank you. Canadians are very patriotic - usually in a quiet sort of way. But we're very passionate about our country and our heroes. Thanks for the kind comment.

• Dianne, thanks very much. And thanks also for that information. I will have to catch it later - maybe tomorrow. Frank is here and perhaps we will listen together. I will pass your hug to my boy when I see him next (probably Christmas time). And one right back at you, dear friend.

• Thank you, Nick.

• Nezzy, I'm so, so sorry for your loss. I had no idea. Sending warm hugs to you and good vibes for your MIL.

• Thank you kindly, MJ. Very much appreciated.

• Rainy, thanks so much.

Mage said...

I'm a failure as a flag waver, but I admit that I have a "Remember" ribbon on the tailgate of my old truck.

Great images, thank you.

Nancy said...

You do it so well where you live.

Joanna Jenkins said...

I have a month in my throat. This is a beautiful tribute.
xo jj

Pat - Arkansas said...

And again, Amen.

MB Shaw said...

What a lovely, lovely post. it brought tears to my eyes. And your photos are so beautiful and full of respect. Thank you for posting this.

Friko said...

I am not going to read all the replies to this moving post, so i won't know if anyone else has mentioned the little town of Wootton Bassett.
From where the planes touch down which bring the victims of war in Afghanistan home to the military cemetery where they are to be buried, the corteges go through this nondescript, unimportant little place.

Nobody had ever heard of it before, now it is a place where people gather and line the route, old people, old soldiers, young people, families with children, all stand in silence, giving a last salute to the young men and women who have given their lives.

A further 111 dead were mourned this November day since the last one, a heartbreaking coincidence.

Debbie said...

How moving and how appropriate to honor them in that way. Let's pray the rest are home safely as soon as possible.

photowannabe said...

May I join in saying Amen too.
Any loss of life for the protection of country is far too sad. I'm grateful there are those who are real heros doing this.
Thank you again for sharing this. Its heart tugging.

Redbush said...

Well said, Hilary. At this time of the year, especially, I think of my friends, and yourself who have sons posted in Afghanistan. We are so thankful for those who put their lives out there for our freedom. Words cannot express our feelings of appreciation for all of them.

Unknown said...

I think we here in the United States have always felt a true warmth and admiration between your beautiful country and ours. We are close in so many ways and I was very moved by this post. lol!

Unspoken said...

No words for this. Tears.

Hilary said...

• Maggie, ribbons are good. Thanks so much for the kind words.

• Nancy, we Canadians are a proud group. Thanks for the visit.

• Joanna, thanks very kindly.

• Thank you for stopping by, Pat.

• Welcome, MB Shaw and thank very much for the kind words. They're very appreciated. Please visit again soon.

• Friko, you're the first to mention it, and I'd never heard of it before but it sure sounds similar to how we welcome our lost soldiers home. That is indeed a heartbreaking coincidence of 111 additional losses. Thanks so much for telling about Wootton Bassett.

• Amen to that, Debbie. Thanks for stopping by.

• Sue, please do. It is indeed heartbreaking. Thanks so much for your kind words.

• Thank you, Redbush. Thankfully, my son isn't in Afghanistan. He's still on our own soil about 5 hours from home, and hopefully will be for at least a couple of years. But I sure share your sentiment for those who are. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

• Michael, so very true. Where would either of us be without our wonderful neighbours and closest allies? Thanks so much for the kind words.

• You're not alone with that, Amy. Thanks for stopping by.

Lori said...

Reading this and seeing these photo's gave me the goosebumps and made my heart swell and brought tears to my eyes. Bless your beautiful heart Hilary. XX

Maria said...

Here in India, we have great heroes in our forces who have laid down their lives in the war against terrorism. It is the duty of citizens everywhere, even an expat like me, to acknowledge and respect such sacrifice. There's a little girl in my ten year old daughter's class - lost her father to that cause when she was just a year old. Words cannot express my feelings at such sacrifice.

Sandra said...

You have done a wonderful job of capturing the beauty as well as the essence of the event.

Hilary said...

• Lori, thanks so much for the warm words. They're very much appreciated.

• Gaelikaa, that's so incredibly sad. There are heroes everywhere. And so many broken hearts. Thanks for stopping by.

• Thanks very kindly, Sandra. Much appreciated.

Indrani said...

This is terrible, I want it all to end soon.

Hilary said...

Thanks for stopping by, Indrani.