September 1: Warm Welcome in Cold Lake

Nearly 100 Veterans-UN-Nato- Canada motorcyclists escorted the Portraits of Honour convoy on the journey from Lloydminster to Cold Lake. The impressive showing of support was just the beginning of a day that showcased exemplary Canadian pride, community spirit and love for our Canadian heroes.

The convoy arrived at an overflowing arena at the Cold Lake Energy Center with over 1000 civilians, local dignitaries and Canadian Forces Members from 4 Wing Cold Lake in attendance. A line stretched through the arena and into the hallway lasted all day with many more arriving to view the mural.

The community came together to sponsor every element of the day, from the fundraising BBQ, to the hall itself, to the band that entertained the crowd.

As the evening came to a close,  a touching ceremony left tears in the eyes of nearly every member of the standing room only crowd. Mr. Jim Fitzpatrick, father of Corporal Darren James Fitzpatrick, reiterated what so many parents have said throughout this tour - That their greatest fear is that the sacrifice made by their loved one will be forgotten, and that the Portraits of Honour have eased this fear immensely.

Master Corporal Chris Downey of 4 Wing Cold Lake, a veteran who was injured in Afghanistan, spoke about his time there, the meaning of the mural to those who have returned, and the importance of supporting our veterans and serving members of the Canadian Forces. Visibly emotional, he spoke about the loss of his partner and friend Petty Officer Second Class Craig Blake who was killed in the same incident that wounded him, saying:

“The one thing I regret is not being able to bring my partner home, and today you allowed me to bring him home.”

 And what a homecoming Cold Lake gave him.