July 22-24: POH Takes Flight in Lethbridge

On Friday, the Portraits of Honour caravan landed at the Lethbridge Legion Branch #4 for a small tribute ceremony honouring the 157 soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, before heading on to the 20th Annual International Airshow at the Lethbridge Airport.

In her opening remarks, the incoming Kinette Deputy Governor held back tears talking about a friend of her brother, Private Justin Jones from Baie Verte, Newfoundland whose portrait is on the mural. As has been seen at all of our tour stops, someone has been personally affected by the loss of one of those depicted on the mural.

During the open public viewing a mother from the host city was visibly moved by the work of artist Dave Sopha. She removed from her handbag a framed picture of her son who served one rotation in Afghanistan from Thanksgiving 2010 to May of this year. “I am so relieved he is home safe, sound and uninjured. I can’t imagine being the mother of one of these fallen,” she remarked.

On Saturday, a steady stream of visitors took the opportunity to pay their respects at our location facing a runway behind the main viewing stage. A number of people including performers recognized one or more of the fallen. A former soldier pointed out 23 faces he knew during his tenure in the Canadian Forces.

Following the conclusion of the day’s aeronautical exhibition, the Portraits of Honour moved to the Integra Hangar for a fundraising BBQ. On hand were performers, show volunteers, sponsors and the POH Tour Crew. About 600 growling stomachs enjoyed a tasty meal and conversation and several generous donations were made to the project.

As we have seen many times, these 157 lost lives impact so many more individuals, families and communities. There are always those who have lost a son, a sister, a friend or a father, and we continue to be here to help them remember.

Many more photos are available