Monday, 6 June 2011

A Powerful Way to Show Thanks

I am Canadian.  We Canadians are not known for grandiose exhibitions patriotism . . . well unless there is a rather important hockey game, then put me in the red and white, paint a maple leaf on my face and watch me go a wee bit Canada crazy.  A spontaneous grassroots outpouring of patriotism has put that reputation to the test.

Photo found here.
The Canadian Armed Forces have been over in Afghanistan since 2001.  Each time one of our soldiers is killed, their flag draped coffin arrives at Canada's largest Air Force base, travels just over 200 km along the highway to the coroner's office.  It is along this stretch of highway that Canadians wear their flags and hearts on their sleeves.  They do this to let the family of that soldier, along with all of the members of the Armed Forces, know that we recognize the sacrifice and say thank you for it.

Each and every time a soldier returns home in a flag draped coffin . . . Each and every time a family travels with that coffin along the highway . . . they are not alone.  They are met by crowds of people standing on the overpasses, holdings flags, saluting and emergency vehicles flashing their lights, showing the family that we understand what huge sacrifice was made for our country. No matter the weather . . . on the coldest of winter days, during the fiercest storms and on days that the heat can take your breath away . . . they are there.  Flags swirling, lights flashing, people joined together in one powerful voice saying "Thank you.  Thank you for your sacrifice.  Thank you for doing a job that I am not able to.  Thank you for giving your child to their country.  Thank you". 

That stretch of highway is now known as the Highway of Heroes.  Heroes they are . . . each and everyone of them.  Each and every family that has had to make that drive following a flag draped coffin. 


I have travelled along the highway just before a soldier has made that journey.  My god what a sight it is.  Every overpass, I do mean every overpass, has people standing on it showing their support, their appreciation, their respect.  It is powerful.  So powerful that it made me cry.  I cried for the families facing a future without a loved one . . . such a huge loss.  I cried for the fact that sacrifices such as this are still necessary.  I cried because I was totally overwhelmed at the sight of sea of red and white and the pride that welled up in me.

I travelled that stretch of highway again this weekend and once again a soldier was coming home.    My heart goes out to the families that have lost loved ones and that have had to travel this stretch of highway. 

Thank you for your sacrifices. 



  1. What a wonderful tribute to each soldier and family. The spontaneous nature of it is a wonderful thing.

    As I read this a press conference came on my TV, as the death of another Australian soldier was announced. Two soldiers arrived home yesterday in their flag draped coffins.

    What ever personal beliefs are about war, these soldiers and their families deserve respect and compassion.

  2. I could not agree with you more. I am not brave enough to sign up for duty and I am grateful that there are those who are.

  3. Great post and tribute to the fallen.

    I have such great respect for those that choose to fight for their country. My heart goes out to the families that lose their sons and daughters. I know that if my boys choose to join the forces it would break my heart but i would have to let them do it..

  4. Oh my goodness, I have tears in my eyes and goosebumps reading this. What a touching tribute to such brave men. I hope it goes a long way to show the families of the fallen soldiers how thankful their country men and women feel.

    Love, LOVE this post xx


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