Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Proud to be Canadian
In August 2007, 174 kilometers of the Highway 401, the MacDonald-Cartier Freeway, between CFB Trenton and Toronto was officially renamed the Highway of Heroes in remembrance of Canada's fallen soldiers. Since 2002, 134 Canadian soldiers and one diplomat have died during the Afghanistan mission.
On Wednesday, December 23, 2009, Lt. Andrew Nuttall, 30, of Prince Rupert, B.C., was killed in southern Afghanistan. He belonged to the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton. His body arrived at CFB Trenton on Monday, December 28, 2009 and began the journey to Toronto for the repatriation ceremony.
My husband and I had the unexpected honour of preceding the procession while we were on our way back from holiday festivities in Ottawa. Words cannot adequately express the profundity of this experience. We had seen videos and news reports over the (too) many years of the Afghanistan war but were not prepared for the flood of emotions evoked by this sobering trip.
Every one of the entrances, exits and overpasses was filled with fellow Canadians waiting in the extreme cold to honour one of our heroes and to support his family during their mourning. There were flags, banners, salutes and flashing lights everywhere. The lumps in our throat barely allowed speech. We were choking on a mixture of sadness and pride. The poignant outpouring of love was incredible.
I'm so proud to be Canadian.
I also salute and honor the thousands more who have returned as the walking wounded. Some are physically maimed but many more are emotionally scarred from their tours of duty; wracked with survivor guilt or unable to banish the horrific memories and trauma they have endured.
They are also our heroes.