The turn out of Support was amazing.
Pictured here: Lisa Miller, Karen Boire, Prime Minister Stephan Harper, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor
“I’d like to thank you for the incredible amount of strength and support you have displayed over the last 12 months while hundreds of members from CFB Petawawa were deployed in Afghanistan,” said Prime Minister Harper.
The Prime Minister spoke of their heroic acts in Afghanistan, noting that nine soldiers from the base were recently honoured for their service. The Prime Minister went on to speak of the importance of ensuring Canadians from coast-to-coast are made aware of their stories of professionalism, bravery, and selflessness.
“Unfortunately, these soldiers didn’t get the attention they deserved, because their stories were eclipsed by arguments in the House of Commons over the allegations of Taliban prisoners. I sincerely hope their stories get told when the Governor General formally awards their decorations,” said Prime Minister Harper.
This is the second year that Red Friday rallies have been held across the country. The event grew out of the “Wear Red Friday” campaign, which was started by family members of soldiers from CFB Petawawa in 2006.
Canada's top soldier reminded the audience that on the other end of the world, their fellow soldiers were braving 50-degree heat, carrying 45-kilogram backpacks, and fighting elusive enemies while simultaneously battling endless clouds of desert dust and dirt.
But Gen. Rick Hillier told them that the weekly Red Friday rallies make a difference.
"You sometimes can be forgiven for feeling alone (in Afghanistan)," he said.
"But when they hear about what you are doing, when they see video and pictures of it - and they will - you can actually watch their eyes grow big."
"They understand that at the end of that 12,000-kilometre trail, they're supported by you from back home, and they're remembered."
Show our support for our troops... Wear Red on Fridays!
Prime Minister Harper's Speech:
PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER PAYS TRIBUTE TO TROOPS AT RED FRIDAY RALLY
May 11, 2007PETAWAWA
Thank you, Gordon O'Connor, for your generous introduction - and for providing the kind of leadership that only a real military man can provide.Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your warm, enthusiastic welcome.It's great to be here on Red Friday. After all, you created this weekly national celebration of our troops.Give yourselves here at Petawawa a big, well-deserved round of applause.You deserve the applause - and not just for inventing Red Friday.But because of the incredible strength and support you have displayed over the last 12 months while hundreds of troops from CFB Petawawa have been deployed in Afghanistan.I know it hasn't been easy.This community has had more losses to mourn than any other base in Canada.But you have stood firm in support of our troops.Because you're so proud of them.And so you should be.Last month, nine soldiers from Petawawa were honoured for their work in Afghanistan.Two were awarded the Star of Military Valour, five the Medal of Military Valour, and two more were Mentioned in Dispatches.But, sadly, the attention has not been on them.Unfortunately, these soldiers did not get the attention they deserved.Because their stories were eclipsed by arguments in the House of Commons over media reports based on information from Taliban prisoners I sincerely hope their stories get told when the Governor General formally awards their decorations.But in the meantime, let's give a well-deserved hand to those medal recipients who are here today.
Private Jess Larochelle
Private Michael O'Rourke
Corporal Jason Funnell
Corporal Joseph Ruffolo
Master-Corporal Sean Niefer
Master-Corporal Richard Harris
Friends, there are too many unsung heroes in Afghanistan.Not just Canadians, but all the NATO soldiers who are there, with the United Nations, helping the Afghan people reclaim and rebuild their war-ravaged country.You know the story; the link between 9-11 and Afghanistan, the oppression Afghans endured under the Taliban, and the risk of terrorism coming here if we don't confront it there.You also know about the progress we made - progress that could not be possible unless our men and women in uniform put themselves on the line:
The return of democratic elections,
The revival of human rights and freedoms for women,
The reconstruction of schools, health care facilities and the basic infrastructure of a functional economy.You also know that our work has not ended.We can't just put down our weapons and hope for peace.We can't set arbitrary deadlines and wish for the best.And we can't let anyone get away with tarnishing the reputation of the Canadian Forces as the most professional, disciplined and effective soldiers in the world. We can't.And we won't. Because we know where we stand.We know what we stand for.And we know who we stand with.The proud and courageous military men and women of the True North Strong and Free.God bless the work they do.God bless all of you, their families and friends.
And God bless Canada.
From Petawawa Post:
"Wearing red on Friday is like giving our troops a huge round of applause"
by Lisa Brazeau
Like an undulating ocean of red and CADPAT green, a literal sea of supporters flowed down Petawawa Boulevard waving Canadian flags, banners and handmade signs. In an impressive show of appreciation for the men and women of the Canadian
Forces and their families, thousands turned out for homegrown Red Friday Rally and March of Military Appreciation, filling the parking lot at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 with the signature colour. " Wearing red on Friday is like giving our troops a huge round of applause. When we all wear red together, it adds volume to our voices in colour. It speaks of our support, our pride and our appreciation for our Canadian Forces members and their families." said Lisa Miller, who with Karen Boire
brought Canada-wide attention to the grassroots Red Fridays Campaign, a movement encouraging people to wear red on Fridays as a show of support for Canadian Forces."When we gather together, like today, boy oh boy, is that voice loud," she said. Miller and Boire, the “Red Friday Ladies”, worked closely with 580 CFRA last year to bring a massive Ottawa Red Friday rally to Parliament Hill, and wanted to bring the initiative to the home front where so many have seen their loved ones deploy to Afghanistan, and so many soldiers have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"No matter how many people show up, whether it be 15 or 15,000, it makes the rally, and the message we're sending, a success," noted Boire.
Like ‘Red Fridays’, the local rally also garnered national attention; among the dignitaries was Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Minister of National Defence Gordon O'Connor, and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen Rick Hillier. Local dignitaries Renfrew- Nipissing- Pembroke MP and MPP Cheryl Gallant and John Yakabuski, Town of Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Commander Col Denis Thompson and CFB/ASU Petawawa Commander LCol Dave
Rundle were also in attendance. "These rallies and all the other demonstrations of support are immensely important to those of us in uniform and I don't need to tell this crowd about sacrifice, service or duty. You live it every day," said Col Thompson, who through personal experience, attested to the positive impact local support has had on morale overseas. "It's significant, it does resonate here, and frankly it gives our efforts real meaning."
The idea of red Fridays began as an e-mail out of the United States, which Miller and Boire reworded for a Canadian audience and began distributing it to friends and family. As the effort grew, the pair began promoting the initiative beyond the borders of Ottawa and the Ottawa Valley. To date successful rallies have been held in numerous coummunities including Barrie, Toronto, Kingston, and now, in Petawawa.
The Prime Minister applauded the Petawawa community not just for fanning the flames of the Red Friday movement, "but because of the incredible strength and support this community has displayed over the past 12 months while hundreds of troops from CFB Petawawa have been deployed in Afghanistan," he said. "I know that it hasn't been easy. This community has had more losses to mourn than any other base in this country. But you have stood firm in support of our troops because you're so proud of them and you should be." He spoke of the numerous unsung heroes in Afghanistan, not just Canadians but everyone who has had a part in helping
the Afghan people reclaim and rebuild their war ravaged country. He also noted that nine soldiers from the base were recently honoured for their service overseas. " You know about the progress we've made," he said, "progress that would not be possible
unless our men and women put themselves on the line." It’s progress made possible,
too, by the support Canadians have for their military and the mission in Afghanistan, said Minister O'Connor. "I've been to Afghanistan three times, and I can tell you how important it is for our troops over there to know that this mission has the support of Canadians, a mission that is critical to the future of Afghanistan," he said. "Today, through this rally, we can remind our troops that we are behind them 100 per cent."
The rally, he added, is also an opportunity to acknowledge the sacrifices made by military families, and the "vital support they provide to our men and women in uniform, sustaining them while they carry out their duties. Thank them for all they do to keep the Canadian Forces strong."
In appreciation of the efforts of the "Red Friday Ladies", Petawawa Mayor Bob Sweet presented Miller and Boire with Town of Petawawa Medals, which conveys the gratitude and appreciation of the mayor and council of Petawawa.