Canadian Emergency News Magazine

They Are Our Heroes

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Highway of Heroes

Members of the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Service wait the arrival of the funeral procession for one of our fallen Canadian soldiers on the Sidney St. overpass at the Gateway to Highway Of Heroes in Trenton, Ontario, 18 January 2008.

Canadian Emergency News Magazine
Volume 31 Issue 2, April/May 2008

Roger Litwiller, Author -Copyright
Photographs by Dave Valdes, Advanced Care Paramedic.

Over the last several years we have seen a truly remarkable situation develop here in Canada. This is the support of our members of the Canadian Armed Forces. For to long these men and women have been forgotten.

As a nation we have asked our youth to volunteer in defence of our rights and freedoms and protect our nation. But as we have not had a war on Canadian soil for almost 200 years we ask our soldiers, sailors and airmen to defend the rights and freedoms of nations that cannot protect themselves.

Since the Korean War, we called this peacekeeping. But do not be fooled by these words, keeping the peace comes with a price and for 60 years our military have been putting their lives on the line as peacekeepers, many have given their lives and we as a nation have not noticed.

So what is different now? We have sent our military to fight a War on Terrorism. This is not a war of nations fighting nations, but an ideology fighting to take control of the weak and innocent, people who cannot protect themselves. Terrorism denies every one of what we consider to be basic rights. This lesson was learned from the horrific attacks on 9/11, a day when we lost many of our American brothers and sisters. Collectively as a nation our attitude has changed. We realized that Canadian soil is no longer as safe as we once thought.

Highway of Heroes

Paramedics from Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Service stand at attention and salute the hearse carrying a fallen Canadian soldier over the first bridge of the Highway Of Heroes.

Now we have asked our soldiers, sailors, airmen and women to defend our rights and freedoms by fighting terrorism on the soil of another nation. We ask them to bring stability to a nation that has none. They are not fighting a war as depicted in the movies. They face dangers we cannot understand. A child’s toy lying on the ground has been turned into an Improvised Explosive Device; a civilian extends a hand in greeting then explodes as a human bomb. Our medics have been forced to remove their Red Crosses, once a symbol of protection, has become a target of opportunity.

Why do these young men and women do this? Most, for the same reason we are paramedics, firefighters and police officers. We share a responsibility and a duty to protect, defend and help those in need. These men and women are volunteers and yet many have completed several tours of duty in Afghanistan, and will go back again.

As a nation we understand the sacrifices these men and women are making and have rallied in support of our troops. Many thousands of Canadians signed a petition and had the name of a section of the busiest highway in Canada, changed to “Highway of Heroes”. The highway runs from CFB Trenton to the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. Each time one of our soldiers returns home to Canada, having given their life, thousands of Canadians line the highway, out of respect and gratitude. This out pouring of public support has not been organized or planned. It is done because it is the right thing to do.

We can continue our support by simply saying thank you to any member of the military for the work they do. Just as we would like to hear those simple words said to us. We can insist that the Canadian Flag is placed on every emergency vehicle in the country to show support as a nation. We can place the yellow ribbon of “Support Our Troops” on our vehicles as well. These actions are not promoting or condoning war, but are stating as a nation, as Canadians, we support our brothers and sisters who have answered the call to defend our nation.

Highway Of Heroes

Canada’s busiest highway is closed to traffic as the funeral procession proceeds on the Highway of Heroes, east of Cobourg, Ontario.

Located in Trenton, the members of the Hastings-Quinte Paramedic Association stand with our brothers and sisters from the Fire Department and the Ontario Provincial Police as Guardians to the Gateway of the Highway of Heroes, each time one of our soldiers is brought home. We take comfort in knowing we are joined by our brothers and sisters all along the highway to the final destination in Toronto. Each of us knowing it is an honour to stand, because it is the right thing to do.

No matter what part of Canada we call home, each of us can show our support to our members of the military, they are our Heroes. If our brothers and sisters fail in their mission, then we as emergency workers will be joining them on the front lines when the War on Terror is fought on Canadian soil.