To go to camp all that you have to do is drive east. Just stay on hwy 401 and don’t get off for two full hours. The drive is normally long and somewhat boring. This time our drive was a little different as we drove east the traffic going west was heavy with cottagers driving home or we thought. As we got further into the City of Pickering and close to Ajax we started to notice people on the bridges over the highway. We stopped once at Tim Horton’s for coffee and there were families with Canadian flags walking towards the bridges. Once we were back on the highway the crowds of people and flags grew larger in size and we say TV News vans parked along side the highway at the on and off ramps. The further east we went not only was it people and flags on the bridges but also fire trucks, ambulances and police cars. At one point there were eight Ontario Provincial Police cars and officer’s standing at attention on the side of the west bound 401 Highway. As my family talked about what was happening I could feel tears pooling in my eyes.
At one moment the traffic going west was bumper to bumper then just as quickly the westbound lanes were empty of all traffic. Not a single vehicle could be seen along the stretch of highway, that was our final notice to what was to come. Our eyes were peeled to the east and then we saw the motorcade, slowly driving along the west bound highway.
By this time my tears were running freely down my face and not a voice could be heard in our car. Approximately eight black cars with flashing lights on their rooftops drove slowly by and behind them was a single black Hearse with the body of Canada’s latest casualty from the war in Afghanistan.
I am ashamed to say I don’t know the soldier's name or how he died. I have seen on the news too many times the funeral procession along the Highway of Hero’s (as that stretch of hwy 401 has been named) but to be honest I haven’t given it much thought. But this time witnessing the people on the bridges, the police at attention, the reality of another young man giving up his life to serve his country was very overwhelming.
I don’t know about you but I don’t really think much about the war that is going on right now. I intentionally turn the news off because I don’t want to hear anymore negative news. But as I watched the Hearse drive by it hit me, that because of his sacrifice I have the choice to change the channel on my TV. His commitment to my freedom allows me to not worry about where my familie's next meal is coming from, or that we can sleep in our own rooms in our homes. Because of this man's desire to serve I don’t worry when my children are outside playing and we can go for a walk and not be concerned that there are bombs hidden in the ground.
To all the soldiers who risk their lives for mine and countless others' freedom, I say thank you.