On Wednesday I brought you the first of this 2 part blog on these events. I left off with the ceremony that took place at Trenton Ontario at the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial. This is located quite close to the entrance to Highway 401, a portion of which is now called the Highway of Heroes. Canadian troops who had fallen in Afghanistan, traveled along this route westbound to Toronto and steps closer to their final resting places on Canadian soil.
Several days before the May 9th formal ceremony at Ottawa, troops again departed from Trenton, on the next leg of this journey in remembrance. But this time they went in the opposite direction... and started their several day march to Ottawa.
From within this group a subgroup calling themselves the Soldiers of Afghanistan Relay (SOAR)came forth to actual march to Ottawa and take part in the National Day of Heroes ceremony. In doing so they planned on making it well know that many still suffer and need attention. They also want to recognize those that have fallen.
Nineteen of these men and women, some still serving, some not, and some not in the military but attached to the forces that served in Afghanstan took part in the several day march to the capital. Some walked, some ran or rode their wheelchairs and all had opportunities to carry their torch. Actually it was not a torch but a flag. The very Canadian flag that was last flown over the International Security Assistance Force Head Quarters facilities at Kabul, noted in the first of these two blogs.
That most honourable flag, having done its duty, was going to our capital. There it would play a most important part in the ceremony taking place. It would pass through the hands of several very high ranking military officers, our Prime Minister and ultimately presented to the Commander in Chief of all of Canada's forces... our Governor General.
The trip would take from 4 to 9 May and pass through several municipalities en-route.(See map above.) At these, the public had a chance to witness the event and also pay tribute to our internationally respected brave military. Especially those wounded, those killed in action in Afghanistan and those at home that gave so much in the way of supporting the forces so far away.
After several days of operating in relays the 19 members of SOAR finally arrived at Ottawa's city Hall on May 8th. As you can see from the image on the left, two fellows in the front had lost both legs in combat. Look closely at the centre and right images and you will see that the flag is in a specially constructed baton and mounted on the wheelchair. You can view a most interesting video of their march whist travelling through the Kingston area at...
The Prime Minister and the Governor General both came out to greet the relay before the ceremony. The image on the right has one of the relay members getting applause as he passed by some of the large crowd gathered on the 9th.
Later that day formal ceremoby started with welcoming comments, and the arrival of the Parade of Honour of troops and 4 bands, that marched on to Parliament Hill from the War Museum some ten blocks to the west. After the troops were inspected by the Governor General, there was a 21 gun salute, singing of O Canada, and the benediction.
Then came the beginning of a 2 minutes of national silence, to be conducted at the same time all across the country. This had a rather noisy ending when 8 planes flew overhead, some of the very planes that saw action in Afghanistan. These included Chinook and Griffin helicopters, Hercules, Airbus and Globemaster transport planes.
Half way through the ceremony the last relay of runners arrived at the Parliament Buildings and in a formal manner presented the baton containing that last flag flown over the HQ in Afghanistan probably to RIck Hanson the Internationally known and respected Man in Motion, who serves as the Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Forces Joint Personal Support Unit. He is shown above in the centre and right images.
From there the flag would be passed up the chain of command to the last serving commander of Cdn troops in the 12 year war, to the Chief of the Defence Staff, to the Prime Minster and finally to the Governor General as the Commander in Chief of all of Canada's military forces. The PM is receiving it at the left and presenting it to the Governor General in the centre image.
There were a number of static displays at Parliament Hill. One of these was the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil which was prepared in Afghanistan by the soldiers themselves. It came back to Ottawa, and whilst decisions remain to be made about where it shall eventually be housed and displayed, the photographs of the members who lost their lives were put on display. Here they are shown in the Hall of Honour at the Centre Block. The public were encouraged to come and see these. Above of course is our PM, the Right Honorable Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen and His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston with his wife Sharon.
This display will actually be travelling across Canada and even to our embassy at Washington DC, and select cities across the US. The schedule as it currently stands for Canada can be seen at...
On a final note, for those who need a boost in pride for being Canadians, I highly recommend you visit the following link to hear what NBC anchor Tom Brockaw had to say about our wonderful country some time ago. Listen carefully to the last comment... it's a hoot.... and is at...
Feel free to send comments on what you are seeing at this site.