Thursday, May 31, 2007

The difference is like night and day. Literally, night and day.

Captain Fraser Clark, of the Canadian Armed Forces, wrote a beautiful piece in the Globe and Mail today about the respect given to a fallen Canadian Soldier.

He says:

I had never seen so many Canadian flags along Highway 401. From Trenton to Toronto, each and every overpass along the 170-kilometre route was adorned with Canadian flags, large and small. Some people attached a Maple Leaf to a wooden stick and waved it vigorously from side to side; others lowered the flag in a sombre salute for a solemn occasion.

This was the eight-vehicle repatriation cort├Ęge of Corporal Matthew McCully, the young Canadian soldier killed on patrol in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb last week. We had just observed the return of Corp. McCully's remains on the tarmac at the airbase in Trenton and were now on our way to the coroner's office in Toronto.

Many of them were in tears as they marched toward the hearse. The air inside our limousine was thick with emotion as we sat in silence contemplating the ceremony that had unfolded before our eyes. After the Ontario Provincial Police led us away from the terminal, our attention was quickly drawn to several dozen people lining the streets of Trenton, many holding bouquets of flowers amid the dozens of flags fluttering in the wind. Several oncoming cars pulled over to the side of the road, their occupants getting out to stand with their hands covering their hearts in quiet respect.

It wasn't until we were driving under the first few highway overpasses that we took notice of every bridge: Each was lined with more and more people, and as we drew closer to them, the people waved their flags more briskly so we could appreciate the scale of their salute. As we reached Toronto, the crowds were still lined up on each overpass and our drivers, by this time well practised in their response, slowed the limousines to acknowledge the demonstrations ...

Accompanying those special flag-bearers were hundreds of police officers, firefighters and ambulance service workers. With their vehicles parked in single file atop each overpass, sirens ringing and lights flashing, those proud men and women snapped such an impressive salute that it brought tears to the eyes for all who sat inside the limousine. The police officers who couldn't fit on the overpasses moved their cruisers into an extended line along each exit ramp, blocking oncoming traffic as they formed up on the roadside to salute.

Mesmerized by this tremendous demonstration of support, the family sat in quiet disbelief, seeing a ray of hope as they witnessed their fellow citizens sharing their pain.

Each. And. Every. Overpass.

I know that stretch of the 401 very well.

That's a lot of overpasses.

That is class.

That is how it should be done.

In somewhat related news, Fort Drum will no longer hold individual services for fallen soldiers. The services will now be held once a month.

Why am I not surprised?


Anonymous said...

Only in Canada, pity.


JennyE said...

If it were up to me, it would be the same way as ya'll. But nobody at Ft. Drum asked me.

However, I haven't heard of anything that ridiculous here at Cannon. As far as I know, we have lost just one local soldier, and then the streets were lined with mourners and supporters. I'm sure if we had an overpass over a highway, it would have been lined as well (we just have one, and it's over train tracks).

Just wanted you to know that there are SOME parts of the country that aren't like that.