Canadian soldiers who have died overseas are repatriated via Trenton Air Force Base, not far from where we live. All are then transported to the coroner's office in Toronto by means of a cavalcade with police escort, accompanied by friends and family. From there, the families take them to services and final resting places all over our nation.
The journey from Trenton to Toronto takes them along "The King's Highway 401", one of the busiest highways in North America. As a show of gratitude and sorrow, and to provide some measure of support and comfort to the families, people from all walks of life have spontaneously taken to lining the overpasses of the highway. Thus, the section of the 401 on which these convoys take place was officially given the name "Highway of Heroes".
These unprompted displays by the citizens of Canada have been observed and admired by people around the world. Here are some of the people paying their respects to those who acted in the service of others.
A ceremonial convoy for all soldiers to that date.
Our closest bridge over the 401 is outside the small village of Colborne at the exit with "The Big Apple". The local legion is closer to another bridge and attends there. And, because of traffic concerns, ours is the last bridge in the area to be manned by the fire department if they don't have enough vehicles available at the time. So it isn't always as heavily populated as other bridges, but there are always people present. To my knowledge, there is never an empty bridge along the entire route.
Local Fire Truck
It was an otherwise quiet day and so one of the local fire trucks was on hand. The police, fire and ambulance services feel a bond with the soldiers and are present whenever they are not on call. They also use their radios to relay notice about the approach of the cavalcade.
Our only large flag is the Canadian Red Ensign (Canada's flag until 1965). We chose it to fly at our farm because we find it attractive, although many people today confuse it with the flag of the Province of Ontario. Soldiers recognize it because many of our veterans fought under the Canadian Red Ensign or the British Union Flag.
An Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) car can be seen blocking the on-ramp to provide a clear route just before the cavalcade arrives. Traffic was very light that day anyways.
And a heartfelt thank you to everyone who manages to attend. Your recognition and support matters to the troops and to their families.
Private Michael Freeman
Sergeant Gregory John Kruse
Warrant Officer Gaetan Roberge
Herley Road is the next overpass (not a highway exit) east from us after Percy Street. The local legion attends here.
Copyright © 2000-2008 by Craig Routledge.
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