Alberta’s Newest City Still Has Small Town Heart

Celebrating its 1st birthday as a city this week, the Central Alberta City of Lacombe enjoyed a ceremony and celebration of a different kind today.

Today, thousands of residents would celebrate the incredible dedication and courage of our Canadian Forces Troops.  They would show up in full force to welcome the Portraits of Honour National Tour and to take time to remember the sacrifice of our fallen heroes and their families.

For the mother of Private Joel Wiebe, this would be the first time she’s seen her son’s portrait.  She was out of the country last week when we were in her hometown of Edmonton so she made the trip down to Lacombe today. 

She was not alone as she met and spent time with the sister of Corporal Albert Storm and the aunt of Corporal Jordan Anderson.  Each of these women showed strength and resilience as they shared their experience of losing a loved one in battle.

Certainly they found strength in the throngs of supportive Lacombians who came together to honour their loved ones.

The Lacombe Kinsmen did an amazing job in putting out the word and they organized an impressive parade that included dozens of Legion veterans, the 20th Field Regiment, dozens of cadets who had driven in from Hobbema, RCMP, Lacombe Fire Department, Boy Scouts, Canadian Army Veterans, UN-NATO Veterans, a 53’ Support Our Troops rig and two large artillery guns being towed by two large military vehicles.  It was an impressive sight.

 But what made it more impressive and much more meaningful was the hundreds of residents of all ages who lined the parade route between the Lacombe Memorial Centre and the Lacombe Arena. They carried and waved a variety of Canadian flags, many of which were purchased for $100 from the local Kinsmen as a fundraiser for the Portraits of Honour fund.

The ceremony went off without a hitch and was followed by some unique entertainment including a gymnastics group and drumline corp from the local University.

The Lacombe Kinsmen predict that they will raise upwards to $20,000 from their efforts. 

The day ended with one of the most powerful events that our tour has seen.  We often have veteran motorcycle riders offer to escort us from town to town.

But today, the CAV, UN-NATO, Blue Knights and several other civilian riders would gather in Lacombe from as far away as Cold Lake to help bring their fallen comrades to Calgary.  The ride was codenamed Operation Veterans Rumble.

80 motorcyles, most carrying Canadian colours rolled out of Lacombe under a full police escort that included several motorcycles from the Alberta Sheriffs, RCMP cruisers and an officer from the CP Rail Police.  With the help of the Lacombe City Police, we were soon rolling down Highway 2 towards Calgary.

As we rolled towards the Calgary city limits, another dozen Calgary Police Service Traffic Unit motorcyles joined in as they literally shut down Deerfoot Trail for our escort.  For those who live in Calgary, it’s hard to describe what it’s like to roll down Deerfoot without another vehicle on the road.

As we rolled into the parking lot of the hotel where the POH crew is staying tonight, Operation Veterans Rumble certainly lived up to its name as the thunder of that many motorcyles and the sound of several police sirens certainly caught the attention of Calgarians and let them know that our fallen soldiers, sailors and aircrew had arrived.

Thank you to all who participated in such an amazing day!