Red Deer Rises Above

When one thinks of the powerhouse centres of Canadian philanthropy, corporate involvement, and world-class social events, one often thinks of Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto or maybe Calgary. Over the course of the two-day Portraits of Honour stop in Red Deer however, the community proved itself to be a worthy contender.

As one of the local organizers of the Red Deer event so aptly stated, “ Sometimes something happens in a community that changes the way that community sees itself. This is one of those things.”

Arriving at Red Deer College where the Portraits of Honour trailer would remain for the two day stop, it was easy to be moved by the 157 flags lining the “ Boulevard of Heroes” which led to the location where the display would be set-up. Finding out later in the day that each of the flags had been sponsored by a local business, family or individual, raising more than $100 000.00 in support of Portraits of Honour’s fundraising goal was even more overwhelming to the point of being awe inspiring.

Later in the day, at the well attended evening gala, keynote speaker, former Chief of Defense staff General Hillier, engaged, amused and inspired the crowd with his passionate words. Over the past several years Hillier has been focused on Project Hero, a scholarship program for children of Canadian Forces personnel killed while on active military duty. His commitment to this and other philanthropic projects resulted in Hillier being presented with the prestigious Kin Canada award, the Hal Rogers Fellow, at the evening gala, an honour he graciously accepted.

The final day of the Portraits of Honour stop in Red Deer began with a military parade down the Boulevard of Heroes, which featured cadets, RCMP, service personnel and even a showband. Members of the community lined the route and gathered in front of the Portraits of Honour, a true example of coming together to remember, honour and celebrate the fallen and those still serving.

Seeing one woman with tears in her eyes, a Portraits of Honour crew member had asked if she was alright.

“ I’m just fine," she said, " I am just so proud of these young kids,” pointing to the fallen depicted on the mural, “ And I’m really proud of this city for doing this up right.”

So are we.