on the highway of heroes

November 11 is called Remembrance Day in Canada. From my youth it has been a day of older men in medals, somber speeches, and poppies on lapels. The poppies are a distinctly Canadian memorial, inspired by the poem In Flanders Fields, by Lt. Col. John McCrae, MD, a Canadian military doctor who died of pneumonia during WWI.

Some TV news items on the day pointed us to a new Canadian memorial of our war dead, this time from the battlefields of Afghanistan. When the bodies of our soldiers arrive home in Canada, they are flown first to an air force base in Trenton, ON. From there, they travel in a funeral procession led by police cars up the 401 highway to Toronto for autopsy.

Our Canadian people have taken to lining the overpasses on the highway, waving flags and saluting the fallen heroes as they return home. I can’t find the news item I saw, but these links will tell the tale. I found the last one, a video with no sound from within one of the cars in the procession, to be quite moving.

A-Channel article on the highway

Canada AM interview with creator of petition

a view from the procession

John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields:

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields