June 19: Brantford and Simcoe - Communities Take Notice

Immediately upon arriving at our first stop of the day, Brantford, it was clear that the organizers of the event wanted key figures in their community to take notice. Dignitaries gave certificates of appreciation to both the local Kin organization and to the Artist, Dave Sopha in a short public ceremony. Many members of the community rearranged their Father's Day plans to visit the tour on this early morning stop.

Soon it was time to proceed to our second stop of the day, SImcoe, and the organizers ensured that everyone along the route would take notice. We were escorted all the way to Simcoe by a large convoy of local police, OPP officers, and many members of the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Club.  The flash of sirens and the rumble of bikes had those we passed by waving, honking, stepping out of their cars to place a hand over their heart, or shouting "we support our troops."

Upon arrival in Simcoe, the reception we received was just as visible with a large group gathered in the park where the trailer was to be set-up, fire engines with arial ladders taking photos of the crowd and display and a show band entertaining the crowd. Simcoe was truly celebrating our troops and showing their support. 

Amidst the celebration however, Judy Klages, Mother of local fallen Petty Officer 2nd Class Craig Blake, spoke of the loss of her son and of the responsibility she feels personally, and the responsibility we should all feel as Canadians, to care for those troops who come home with mental and physical injuries. It was visible on the faces of those who had gathered that they shared this belief, and throughout the remainder of the day they donated, participated in raffles, or purchased merchandise in support of this cause.

These two Portraits of Honour National tour stops felt especially poignant for many, being that they fell on Father's Day. A large number of the men on the mural were fathers, leaving behind sons who will never learn to drive with their father by their side, or daughters who will not have their father to walk them down the aisle, children who will see their mothers in more pain than any child should have to witness. When we consider these families, our mission to raise funds to support them, seems like the least we can do for these fathers that paid the ultimate sacrifice and would certainly still want their families to be taken care of as if they had not been taken from them. We owe them that.