(and hopefully our "fav" councillor will see this)
KITCHENER, Ontario (Jul 18, 2007)
Yellow ribbons are starting to make an appearance on emergency vehicles in Kitchener and Waterloo.
The ribbons, symbolizing support for Canadian soldiers overseas, were added to Waterloo's 15 fire trucks and support vehicles last week.
Yesterday, the Kitchener Fire Department affixed its first ribbon to one of 20 support vehicles.
The entire fleet won't be outfitted until a small kink is worked out. The ribbon magnets ordered by the city won't stick to the department's aluminum-sided trucks.
That problem has also delayed putting the decals on the region's aluminum-backed ambulances, though stickers ordered for those vehicles are expected to arrive before Aug. 1, said John Prno, director of Emergency Medical Services.
The Waterloo and Cambridge fire departments ordered the yellow stickers as well, a move Kitchener will follow, Chief Tim Beckett said.
The glitch didn't prevent the Kitchener department from holding a ceremony yesterday, where the first ribbon was stuck on a magnet-friendly vehicle.
Military families, politicians, soldiers and firefighters gathered at fire department headquarters on Strasburg Road to watch as Beckett placed a ribbon on a command vehicle.
"It means the world to me and puts a smile on my face knowing people care about this," said Ryan Filsinger, 23, a Kitchener native who is home on leave from his pre-deployment training out West.
Filsinger is a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Shilo, Man. He will leave for Afghanistan in February.
"It's just great to come home and see the yellow ribbons and know people are thinking of you," he said.
"I always tell people, 'You don't have to support the mission but support the guys who are leaving their families behind to serve the country.' "
Filsinger's father, Paul, is a member of Families of Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan, the local group that asked that decals and magnets be allowed on municipal vehicles.
The ribbons have sparked controversy locally and nationwide, with opponents arguing they imply support for the military mission in Afghanistan.
The family group has maintained the ribbons are a symbol of Canadians supporting Canadians serving abroad as well as their families at home and aren't politically motivated.
A number of the group's members were present yesterday as Paul Filsinger presented the fire department with several magnets and thanked the city and emergency services for their support.
"It really does mean a lot to the families," he said. "This is just another tangible way for the city to show their support."
Two members of the Kitchener Fire Department serve in the reserves -- one returned from Afghanistan earlier this year and another is set to start his tour in two weeks.
"It touches very close to the Kitchener Fire Department," Beckett said. "This is just a small token of what we can do to say thanks and safe return."
Tom Ruggle, Kitchener's chief fire prevention officer, is a reservist with the Lorne Scots and one of nearly 2,500 soldiers who will be deployed in coming weeks.
Ruggle is on military leave but returned to the fire station dressed in his sand-coloured fatigues to watch the ribbon ceremony.
The reserves are rooted in the community, he said, so it's nice to see community recognition of their efforts.
"It's nice to know when you leave, when you're over there and when you come back home, you've got something to come back to," he said.
More than 30 members of the Waterloo Region-based reserve units -- the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada and the 48 Field Engineer Squadron -- are preparing for a tour in Afghanistan in 2008.
Last week, Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge councils agreed to allow the yellow ribbons on all their vehicles. The region agreed to allow the ribbons on its ambulances.
The municipalities are waiting for the rest of the ribbons to arrive and they'll likely start showing up on vehicles next week.
The Kitchener Fire Department hopes to have its stickers in place by the beginning of the week, Beckett said.
Waterloo regional police have designed a yellow ribbon pin, which officers can wear on their uniforms to show support for the troops.