Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Day for Canada and Its Troops - Meaford

A day for Canada and its troops

July 01-07

Meaford rallied behind the country’s armed forces Sunday with a Canada Day parade downtown just a day after families in three provinces laid to rest the latest Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Children and adults wearing patriotic red and white, many with tiny red maple leaves inked on their skin, waved paper flags as troops from the nearby Land Force Central Area Training Centre Meaford marched by with delegates from dozens of Royal Canadian Legion branches.

People watching said they’re proud to wave the flag for such a great country on its 140th birthday. Scores of painted children in Canadiana gear and garb followed the soldiers. Many rode on flag-trimmed bikes or a 4-H float. They followed the marching pipe band and soldiers past store fronts trimmed to the day’s theme of “Support our Troops.
One merchant’s window displayed portraits of all 60 Canadian military personnel who have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2002.

One of those fallen soldiers was second cousin to Betty and John Youson. The long-time, part-time Meaford residents said they appreciated the community’s effort to support Canada’s military and said they joined those watching to celebrate both the country and its soldiers.

“Obviously we’re here because we want to celebrate. I’m very proud of Canada,” John said as they watched the soldiers march along Sykes Street. “It’s a wonderful parade.”

Shirley and Alec Krulick of Cambridge also watched as patriots.

“It’s great to be a Canadian. What a wonderful country, one of the best in the world to live in,” Shirley said. “We support our troops. I’d like to see them come home soon, though.”

The parade was part of what co-organizer Lorraine Leslie, a community development coordinator with the Chamber of Commerce, called “extended” celebrations in Meaford this year for the nation’s birthday.

The nearby military training facility is an important part of the community and economy. Its presence is also a constant reminder of Canada’s current military role in Afghanistan. Several fallen soldiers trained at the Meaford base and many Meaford residents have connections to soldiers now serving in the war zone.

“We as Canadians have to support our troops and educate our young people about what is happening in Afghanistan,” Leslie said.

Military tanks and vehicles, weapons and other equipment now used in Afghanistan was set up at Meaford’s harbour as part of educational displays and the day also included entertainment, kids games, family activities and fireworks at dusk.

Rod MacAlpine, a former Meaford base commander until 1995, and now Chamber president, said the events in Meaford echo growing support across Canada for its armed forces. It’s a sharp contrast to public attitudes a decade ago, he said.

“It’s really nice to see the support for the Canadian Forces today. Unfortunately, it takes coffins coming home to bring that attention to the Canadian Forces,” he said.

1 comment:

melissa ryan said...

great site, my boyfriend is in the miliarty, we are all becoming one big family.