Saturday, June 23, 2007

Highway of Tears

As Written June23rd by my fav. Joe Warmington in the Toronto Sun.
Once again, I thank you Joe W. ~ m.m.





Cpl. Jody Mitic, who lost his legs fighting in Afghanistan,
hands out magnetic yelow ribbons to Torontonians
in the lobby of the Toronto Sun yesterday.


Yesterday they came to the Toronto Sun to support the troops.
Tomorrow they will be out on the highway to salute them.
If you couldn't get here, you will have a chance to pay your respects when the Canadian Armed Forces Airbus comes home tomorrow evening with three more Canadian soldiers killed in battle.
So many people have asked me about this. So many people want the families of soldiers who die over there to know people care.
This tells me Toronto is behind our troops. You don't need any City Hall motion to show that. But it just happens in Toronto we do have one.
Our city council voted unanimously to have Support Our Troops ribbons on every emergency vehicle.
Bravo.
And many coppers, firefighters, paramedics, veterans, wounded soldiers, military spouses, sons and daughters and mothers and fathers appreciate that.
NOTED CHANGE
And so does a veteran named Don Ashfield, who was the Sun reader who pointed out to me in the first place that the city was going to have the Support Our Troops decals removed from emergency vehicles.
Neither of us realized just how upset you would be about that. You shamed those who tried to sneak this through into getting on your side.
It doesn't matter sometimes how something happens as long as it does.
"I am glad they do it now because if we don't they may not ever get properly recognized," said George Pasher, a veteran of the Korean War who knows all about that.
"It took the Canadian government 40 years to recognize us and finally give us a medal," he said. "The problem was half the guys were already dead."
We are not going to let any politician treat these fine men and women like that.
We need as a country to get behind them no matter what.
This was the approach the several hundred who came down here yesterday felt.
We handed out yellow ribbons of support but we didn't really have to because many of the people had support decals already.
They were already proud of our troops. They just wanted to be here for the moment of silence and for the singing of O Canada. It was patriotism that was on display. And you see some more of that tomorrow, sometime after 5:30 p.m. when the latest three dead soldiers are returned home from Afghanistan.
These will be the 58th, 59th and 60th to do so. It is so sad.
There is nothing routine about it. But there has in essence become a bit of a routine for those who live along the route to Toronto. It has happened so often, thousands of ordinary Canadians fill the overpasses and pull off the road to make way for the hearses making their way to the Centre of Forensic Sciences along Hwy. 401 from CFB Trenton.
It's Ontario's own Trail of Tears.
"It's very emotional to be part of it," says Intelligarde president Ross MacLeod, who travels down to his summer home every weekend and has taken part in the impromptu memorial sessions.
"One bridge has now become several bridges from Courtice Rd., east to Port Hope and 50 people have become hundreds of people including families with children all saluting the troops," he said. "It's an unusual sight for which I know no precedent, except the funeral cortege for Princess Diana."
The plane is scheduled to come in at 5:30 and after they are repatriated on the tarmac they will then head to Toronto. You can salute them by going down to Trenton and standing outside the gate or getting on any one of the bridges and overpasses on their way to Toronto.
Many people pull off the road as the procession moves. This weekend's unofficial ceremony is expected to be the biggest ever. Those on council who didn't understand they sentiment of the country will get it now. There is no advertising campaign, no government decision necessary. It's just Canadians who feel strongly they want to say thank you. Thanks for what you did.
Bring your Kleenex if you decide to partake in this.
"You can't help but have tears," said Jeri Horton-Joyce, the daughter of Tim Horton, who with her husband Ron Joyce Jr. have a Tim Hortons franchise in Cobourg and often go out to pay their respects.
It's something new for Canada, losing this many people. We have had decades without this kind of pain.
But our freedom we enjoy came from soldiers in the past who ensured it for us. You may not know their names but they are part of your free life.
In a column down the road I am going to make an argument to rename Hwy. 401 in honour of the men and women from this war on terrorism.
I have a name of what I think it should be called but will talk about that later.
For now I just wanted you to know you can support them if you wish. It costs nothing but some time. So many people have just started doing this all on their own.
It's the power of this sentiment that saw some city fathers change their mind on the ribbons.
"The troops know that people care," said Master Cpl. Jody Mitic, who lost his legs in Afghanistan.
He received a standing ovation when he came down to help hand out these ribbons yesterday, as did Julie Brown who just came back from working at the Tim Hortons in Kandahar (you can read my column on her experiences Monday and check out a video about it now up on torontosun.com).
Also on hand representing the Toronto Police Association were its president Dave Wilson and media spokesman Louise Gray, and from CFB Downsview Capt. Wayne Johnston, Sgt. Chris Thomson and Laura Keller and Fliss Chippendale of the Toronto Military Family Resource Centre and Councillor Mark Grimes from the city.
The message Toronto sent today is very simple. We are behind our troops.
And we salute them.

1 comment:

ann said...

Hi Military Mom--
Just thought I'd share a video I made with you.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTFV6otVGIQ

Ann