Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembering Our Heroes

Friday, November 11 is Remembrance Day here in Canada.

On this day, last year, I wrote a blog post about how Canada honours our men and women who lost their lives while on mission in Afghanistan.

Our Highway of Heroes is a stretch of Highway 401 between Canadian Forces Base Trenton and the city of Toronto. It is along this road where Canadians gather on overpasses to pay tribute, gratitude and respect to our fallen soldiers as they return home for the final time.

On June 29th of this past summer, Frank and I were returning from a stay up at the cottage. As we passed CFB Trenton, we noticed that a few folks had collected on the overpass just beyond the exit. We quickly realized that they gathered for the repatriation of Master Cpl. Francis Roy who had lost his life in Afghanistan a few days earlier. He served with our country's special forces regiment and sadly died of non-combat related injuries. No further explanation was ever given, nor has it been required. The devastation of war affects both body and soul.

As Frank and I carried on along the highway toward home, we continued to see grateful citizens and veterans collect on the bridges or in the fields lining the westbound highway.

We had a quite a few miles to go before we arrived home but it dawned on me that since folks were continuing to gather, we were significantly ahead of the procession, and there would be time for me to join them on the bridge once we arrived in Bowmanville.

We quickly dropped suitcases and perishables off at the house and then Frank drove me over to a spot near the overpass.

Others were standing by, and they welcomed me as I joined them on the bridge.

As we waited for the procession to arrive, support was shown with the wave of our country's flag.

Passing cars showed their encouragement and appreciation with a series of honks or a supportive gesture.

Much about this solemn, patriotic event made me wish I hadn't forgotten to bring tissues with me.

Soon, representatives from the local fire department arrived, and those who previously stood watch understood that this signaled that the procession would soon pass by.

Within a few minutes, I heard someone say "Here they come," and all eyes looked eastward, over the highway below.

The hearse and official vehicles passed by silently.

Flags were rolled up.

And the group quietly dispersed.

As I walked back to Frank's, I thought about Master Cpl. Francis Roy and his family, and I hoped he would be the last Canadian to lose his life in Afghanistan.

I also thought about my fellow blogger, Gabi, also known as CorvusCorvax12 (previously known as Twain12), who lost her own beautiful boy, Patrick to this mission in 2007. My heart aches for her and her family's loss. Knowing somebody, even if only through text, brings it much closer to home.

Of course, I thought a lot about my own son, Jeffrey who thankfully remains safely on Canadian soil, taking courses which will train him for his military career in Air Traffic and Air Weapons Control.

I wanted this to be the last time Canadians would have to stand upon a bridge to witness one of our own coming home. Sadly, this was not to be the case. Just a couple of weeks ago, we lost yet another young soldier - Master Cpl. Byron Greff a young father of two who had been home on leave just four days earlier to meet his newborn daughter. He was our fifth loss since this time last year. May he be the final loss our country endures.

poppy pins
Canadians across the nation have been buying and wearing poppies for the past couple of weeks. Please join us at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of this eleventh month, in our duty and privilege, by remembering our heroes with two minutes of silence.

The names of the 158 soldiers who have traveled the Highway of Heroes appear below.

Sgt. Scott Shipway, 36 • Cpl. Andrew Grenon, 23 • Cpl. Mike Seggie, 21 • Pte. Chad Horn, 21 • Sgt. Shawn Eades, 33 • Sapper Stephan John Stock, 25 • Cpl. Dustin Roy Robert Joseph Wasden, 25 • Master Cpl. Erin Doyle, 32 • Master Cpl. Josh Roberts, 30 • Cpl. James Hayward Arnal, 25 • Pte. Colin William Wilmot, 24 • Cpl. Brendan Anthony Downey, 37 • Capt. Jonathan Sutherland Snyder, 26 • Capt. Richard (Steve) Leary, 32 • Cpl. Michael Starker, 36 • Pte. Terry John Street, 24 • Sgt. Jason Boyes, 32 • Bombardier Jeremie Ouellet, 22 • Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze, 25 • Cpl. Etienne Gonthier, 21 • Trooper Richard Renaud, 26 • Cpl. Eric Labbe, 31 • Warrant Officer Hani Massouh, 41 • Cpl. Kevin Megeney, 25 • Sgt. Donald Lucas, 31 • Cpl. Aaron E. Williams, 23 • Pte. Kevin Vincent Kennedy, 20 • Pte. David Robert Greenslade, 20 • Cpl. Christopher Paul Stannix, 24 • Cpl. Brent Donald Poland, 37 • Master Cpl. Allan Stewart, 31 • Trooper Patrick James Pentland, 23 • Master Cpl. Anthony Klumpenhouwer, 25 • Cpl. Matthew McCully, 25 • Master Cpl. Darrell Jason Priede, 30 • Trooper Darryl Caswell, 25 • Cpl. Stephen Frederick Bouzane, 26 • Pte. Joel Vincent Wiebe, 22 • Sgt. Christos Karigiannis, 30 • Capt. Matthew Johnathan Dawe, 27 • Master Cpl. Colin Bason, 28 • Cpl. Cole Bartsch, 23 • Pte. Lane Watkins, 20 • Cpl. Jordan Anderson, 25 • Capt. Jefferson Francis, 37 • Pte Simon Longtin, 23 • Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier, 43 • Master Cpl. Christian Duchesne, 34 • Major Raymond Ruckpaul, 42 • Cpl. Nathan Hornburg, 24 • Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 28 • Pte. Michel Levesque, 25 • Gunner Jonathan Dion, 27 • Cpl. Paul Davis, 28 • Master Cpl. Timothy Wilson, 30 • Pte. Robert Costall, 22 • Cpl. Matthew Dinning, 23 • Bombardier Myles Mansell, 25 • Cpl. Randy Payne, 32 • Lieut. William Turner, 45 • Capt. Nichola Goddard, 26 • Cpl. Anthony Boneca, 21 • Cpl. Francisco Gomez, 44 • Cpl. Jason Warren, 29 • Pte. Kevin Dallaire, 22 • Sgt. Vaughan Ingram, 35 • Cpl. Bryce Keller, 27 8 Cpl. Christopher Reid, 34 • Master Cpl. Raymond Arndt, 31 • Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh, 33 • Cpl. Andrew Eykelenboom, 23 • Cpl. David Braun, 27 • Pte. William Cushley, 21 • Warrant Officer Frank Mellish, 38 • Warrant Officer Richard Nolan, 39 • Sgt. Shane Stachnik, 30 • Pte. Mark Anthony Graham, 33 • Cpl. Glen Arnold, 32 • Pte. David Byers, 22 • Cpl. Shane Keating, 30 • Cpl. Keith Morley, 30 • Pte. Josh Klukie, 23 • Sgt. Craig Gillam, 40 • Cpl. Robert Mitchell, 32 • Trooper Mark Wilson, 39 • Sgt. Darcy Tedford, 32 • Pte. Blake Williamson, 23 • Chief Warrant Officer Robert Girouard, 46 • Cpl. Albert Storm, 36 • Pte. Braun Woodfield, 24 • Cpl. Jamie Murphy, 26 • Cpl. Robbie Beerenfenger, 29 • Sgt. Robert Short, 42 • Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, 24 • Pte. Richard Green, 21 • Sgt. Marc Leger, 29 • Pte. Nathan Smith, 26 • Cpl. Mark Robert McLaren, 23 • Pte. Demetrios Diplaros, 25 • Warrant Officer Robert Wilson, 37 • Cpl. Thomas James Hamilton, 26 • Pte. John Michael Roy Curwin, 26 • Pte. Justin Peter Jones, 21 • Private Michael Freeman, 28 • Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge, 45 • Sgt. Gregory John Kruse, 40 • Trooper Brian Richard Good, 42 • Sapper Sean Greenfield, 25 • Warrant Officer Dennis Raymond Brown, 38 • Cpl. Dany Fortin, 29 • Cpl. Kenneth O’Quinn, 25 • Trooper Marc Diab, 22 • Master Cpl. Scott Vernelli, 28 • Cpl. Tyler Crooks, 24 • Trooper Jack Bouthillier, 20 • Trooper Corey Joseph Hayes, 22 • Trooper Karine Blais, 21 • Major Michelle Mendes, 30 • Private Alexandre Péloquin, 20 • Corporal Martin Dubé, 35 • Corporal Nicholas Bulger, 30 • Master Corporal Charles-Philippe Michaud, 28 • Master Corporal Pat Audet, 38 • Corporal Martin Joannette, 25 • Private Sébastien Courcy, 26 • Corporal Christian Bobbitt, 23 • Sapper Matthieu Allard, 21 • Major Yannick Pépin, 36 • Corporal Jean-Francois Drouin, 31 • Private Patrick Lormand, 21 • Private Jonathan Couturier, 23 • Lieutenant Justin Garrett Boyes, 26 • Sapper Steven Marshall, 24 • 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 • Corporal Steve Martin, 24 • Corporal Yannick Scherrer, 24 • Bombardier Karl Manning, 31 • Master Corporal Francis Roy, 31 • Master Corporal Byron Greff, 26

Rest easy.


solarity said...

Thank you, Hilary, for making me cry.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

CorvusCorax12 said...

thank you for this beautiful post..i remember the day we brought him home and driving this highway gave me some comfort.

ADRIAN said...

This is a fitting post to people who make the ultimate sacrifice.
A great pity that we have not found a less barbaric way of settling our differences.

Hilary said...

When I saw the hearse, the tears came, and it doesn't matter that it was someone I never met. Like all the Americans who have died that I never knew either. It is the irrevocable loss of a life not lived long enough.
My husband and I have been watching the Viet Nam special this week, and remembering all those who died there, for little reason. It is all too heartbreaking, and makes me question more than I want to.

Leah J. Utas said...

Beautiful tribute post.

DJan said...

I am in tears. Thank you for this very moving post.

Linda at To Behold The Beauty said...

A very moving post, Hilary. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Lovely tribute.

Here's hoping for an end to wars.

Brian Miller said...

this is beautiful...and i canonly hope that one day we come to an end of honoring the falling dead soldiers....

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for remembering the men and women and their families who give so much.

TexWisGirl said...

truly beautiful and so touching...

Denise at Autumn Sky said...

Really beautiful tribute.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Beautiful post and pictures, thanks so much for this moment of gratitude and reflection. So easy to get caught up in day to day trivialities!

Anonymous said...

Heroes Indeed! God bless our military men and women.

Take care and have a nice day :-)

And thanks for your recent comment on My Blog :-)

Elizabeth Grimes said...

Touching beyond words Hilary. Friday is our Veterans Day as well. Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful and inspirational post. I'll be thinking about all our lost Veterans this weekend.

Anyes said...

Remembering our heroes with you Hilary. I wish Carl Sandburg's quote "Someday they'll give a war and nobody will come," could become true in our lifetime. Praying for the families who lost someone

Daryl said...

What an extraordinary post .. may they are rest in peace and may these honors bring comfort to their families and friends ..

Scott Law said...

I type this with a lump in my throat and misty eyes.

W O N D E R F U L!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is an amazing post, so poignant. Beautiful photographs, too. Thank you for taking your readers on this journey.

CJ xx

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful tribute to those heroes. My heart and gratitude go out to those who have lost their sons, fathers, brothers... Thanks for sharing this with us, Hilary!

Rosaria Williams said...

Very touching, Hilary.
We don't do enough for our heroes, those whose lives are shattered and never re-payed for what they have sacrificed.

Unspoken said...

I can't see to respond. Too blurry. You got me with those names in red and your final line. We who know what it is to love a hero and wait. To know some have that wait answered with a broken heart...

Nancy said...

Wonderful tribute to your fallen soldiers. You guys know how to remember.

Gillian Olson said...

Thank you for this touching post about remembering.

lime said...

you canadians really get it right on coming together to respectfully honor those lost. i pray with you that canada loses no more of its young people to this war or any other. and i wish peace and comfort upon the grieving family.

messymimi said...

Lest we forget.

Prayers always.

Sandra said...

A very touching post, Hilary.

Anvilcloud said...

It's a moving thing, and I hope it's all done.

Unknown said...

very moving .... honors to these heroes.

Frank Baron said...

Good one. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the fallen.

Tabor said...

Tears in my eyes Hilary. We must find a better way to settle our differences and to protect us from enemies.

Mental P Mama said...

A sadly beautiful tribute. Wish we didn't have to do them....

yaya said...

What a beautiful post Hilary..thank you for sharing. Here in the states it's Veteran's Day on Fri...we will honor our soldiers also...

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

What a beautiful tribute to those who have served and sacrificed for our freedom. Your pictures tugged at my heartstrings sweetie.

God bless and have a peaceful day!!! :o)

Out on the prairie said...

Sad we ever have to fight to solve problems.

Red said...

Well done Hilary. A photo study like this becomes very meaningful.

Barb said...

Oh, so sad. I cannot imagine the sacrifice and loss. Your photos of the flags and the people are poignant.

SandyCarlson said...

That is one heart-rending post. Soldiers have hearts like the rest of us can only imagine. What loving support.

As I read I thought of your son. I am glad he is safe.

ds said...

Thank you for this deeply moving post, Hilary.

Claudya Martinez said...

It is impossible not to cry when reading this post and looking at these pictures.

Anonymous said...

There is no shame in tears shed for these heroes. Body and soul, so many have given so much.

Several people had asked (in advance) what I will be doing at 11:11am on 11-11-11. If they ask me again, I will give them the link to your poignant post.

Pierre BOYER said...

Le devoir de mémoire...


MizFit said...



Dianne said...

I had chills up and down my spine as I read this
and the photos are like being there with you
thank you Hilary

Cricket said...

Different, yet the same.

A moment of silence is more appropriate than a soundtrack, though I will tell you a story that may make you smile.

My long time bass player and good friend Dan and I both played tuba in school. (We could read bass clef so we were drafted by the band director) Anyway, being both pretty serious about music, we both practiced pretty hard and got pretty good, in a friendly rivalry sort of way.

So anyway, by the end of school, we were both auditioning for various competitive ensembles. The piece he used most often? O, Canada his own arrangement for solo tuba. It may sound a strange choice, but it was surprisingly moving and effective. He really got inside the notes. You don't generally think of tuba as a lead instrument, but it can work.

If that existed anywhere but in our memories, I'd share it. My description does it no justice.

Suldog said...

Never mind you forgetting to bring tissues to the bridge. I could have used one while reading this. Thank you. And thanks, from an American, to our steadfast friends in Canada. We often forget to think of others who have joined with us throughout the many years and many wars, and it helps to have someone such as yourself to remind us, so beautifully, of the sacrifices made by many others.

Sueann said...

My salute too all who serve and also those who have fallen

Hilary said...

* Mary Ann, thanks for stopping by. Please grab a tissue on your way out.

* Gabi, my heart aches for you. I'm so sorry that you own son's name has to appear among the 158. Please know that he will never, ever be forgotten.

* Thank you for stopping by to comment, Adrian. I fear some things will never change though I hope I'm wrong.

* Hilary, I share your sentiments. There are always more questions than answers. Thanks for stopping by.

* Thank you, Leah.

* DJan, I'm touched that it touched you.

* Thanks kindly, Linda.

* Thanks, Lady Fi. There's always hope.

* Thanks for stopping by, Brian. Your wish is shared by most.

* Thank you for stopping by, Slamdunk.

* Thanks very much, Tex.

* Thank you, Denise.

* Thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts, Crabby. Much appreciated.

* Ron, thank you for your kind words. I'm glad you stopped by.

* Thanks very much for your touching thoughts, Elizabeth.

* Anyes, that's a hope that most of us share. Thank you for stopping by.

* Thank you, Daryl. May it be so.

* Thank you kindly, Scott. Please grab a tissue.

* Thanks so much, CJ. Your kind words are very much appreciated.

* Thanks very kindly, Barbara. Yes, sons, fathers and brothers but also daughters, mothers and sisters. We have sadly lost some of our young womenn too. Thanks always for stopping by.

* Thank you, Rosaria. You're so right. I don't think there can ever be enough done.

* Amy, I know you're one of those who have lived through the wait, thankfully with a happy reunion. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing.

* Thank you, Nancy. Much appreciated.

* Thank you for stopping by, Gillian.

Hilary said...

* Thank you kindly, Michelle. I share your sentiments entirely.

* Thanks very kindly, MessyMimi

* Sandra, thank you.

* AC, it's supposed to be done and yet we still lost one since. Thanks for stopping by.

* Thanks, Reena.

* Frank, you're not alone. Thanks for stopping by.

* Agreed, Tabor. Thanks for the visit.

* Thanks MPM. A shared wish, indeed.

* Thanks, Yaya. Yes, I should have mentioned that our neighbours commemmorate the day as well.

* Thanks very kindly, Nezzy.

* Agreed, Steve. Thank you for the visit.

* Thank you, Red. I'm glad you think so.

* Thanks, Barb. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

* Thank you kindly, Sandy. I am so thankful for that, too.

* Thank you for stopping by, DS.

* Mami, I'm glad you stopped by. Tissues are by the door.

* Thank you, Karen. I know theses are sentiments you understand well. Hugs to you.

* Merci bien, Pierre.

* Thanks, Carla. It is indeed. I'm glad you stopped by.

* Dianne, thank you. You never fail to touch me with your kind words. Hugs to you.

* Thanks, Cricket. You did indeed make me smile. That's a piece of music I would love to hear - while standing, of course.

* Thank you so kindly, Jim. You never fail to express my own sentiments and touch my heart with your own words. Hugs to you.

* Thanks so much, SueAnn. Much appreciated.

Clare Dunn said...

Thank you, Canadian Military, Active-duty, Veterans, and families of those who have given all to make our world free.

It is embarrassing for me to say that, when we celebrate Veterans Day here, I don't remember to Thank the soldiers and families from Canada (and many other countries, too) who have made the same commitment as US Servicemen and Women have. For this I apologize. The omission on my part is unforgivable...but your post today will ensure that I never forget again. Thank you, Hilary.

xoxoxo, cd

Reb said...

A beautiful post Hilary.

Josh said...


I absolutely LOVE the Heroes Highway.

Bravo on the post.

Betty Manousos said...

what a powerful tribute, hilary!

i'm so touched and all teary.
thank you.

betty xx

Steve Gravano said...

A beautiful post Hillary, I too hope no more lives are lost over there.

Lynne with an e said...

Reading this post and looking at your photos was almost like watching a documentary. It made it all very real and close.

holdingmoments said...

A wonderful tribute Hilary.

Pauline said...

If only we were able to weep for them before we waged our terrible wars, perhaps we would not wage them at all. This was a heartfelt tribute to those who come home for the last time after having left home irrevocably. Like solarity, I thank you for moving me to tears.

Hilary said...

* Clare, you're a gem. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Soldiers everywhere do indeed need to be remembered always.

* Thank you, Reb.

* Thanks, Josh. Much appreciated.

* Betty, thank you. I'm glad that it touched you.

* Thanks, Steve. We are all in agreement about that, I'm sure.

* Louciao, thanks for the kind words. I'm glad you stopped by.

* Thank you, Keith.

* Pauline, so true. Sadly, that's just not the way of war. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

Javier Guri said...

Great series.

Rosaria Williams said...

I love those poppies.

photowannabe said...

Thank You for the tender post.
I wept as I read it.
I'm so grateful for all who serve and for those who sacrificed so we in this crazy world could be free.

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Javier Guri.

• Thanks kindly, Rosaria. I'm glad you enjoyed.

• Thank you, Sue. Your sentiment is shared by most. Please grab a tissue on your way out.

Unknown said...

Very moving, Hilary. You have a sweet sould and a good heart.My nephew is in Afghanistan. His Grandma is not too happy about it. My thoughts and prayers are with all those in Canada who have sacrificed with their lives. I too dislike war. This was a poignant post!

Zuzana said...

Dear Hilary, for the first time these posts of yours touch me more deeply, as now I am in a situation when I can loose someone I love with all my heart a soul, in a distant war. It takes some getting used to and I have changed my perspectives on these issues and it have made me appreciate endlessly what these courageous men and women do for a living.
Beautiful images.

Hilary said...

• Thank you so kindly, Micheal. I'll keep your nephew in my best thoughts for his safe return. Thanks for your always kind words.

• Thanks, Zuzana. It sure does bring it a lot closer when someone you love is serving. Thanks for the visit.