Mobile memorial to soldiers who served in Afghanistan touring through Maritimes
Published Friday, August 23, 2019 9:32PM ADT
For the first time a travelling tribute to the Canadians who died in the Afghanistan war made its way to a Royal Canadian Legion branch in Nova Scotia.
It's a passion project founded by two people brought together by their own losses during the conflict.
On Friday, the Highway of Heroes mobile memorial received a fitting welcome at the Truro legion.
"The purpose of the Highway of Heroes mobile memorial is to honour all that gave some, and some that gave all," said Kerri Tadeu, the Highway of Heroes memorial co-founder.
The memorial bears the same name as the stretch of Ontario highway that has marked the final journey for Canadians who have been killed in Afghanistan.
"Maj. Michelle Mendes was the 118th soldier to be carried home from the Afghanistan war," Tadeu said. "She was my friend, and when she was carried home, I learned about what service and sacrifice really means."
Tadeu's decision to turn loss into action - led her to a veteran facing his own conflict at home.
Collin Fitzgerald returned from Afghanistan to face a battle with post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Now, I try to take my pain and turn it into purpose," said Fitzgerald.
Together Fitzgerald and Tadeu started on a journey of healing and commissioned the memorial.
It was made to tell the story of the sacrifice of Canadians during the conflict.
Among the images carved out of cast iron are the first four soldiers to die in Afghanistan in 2002 -- in a friendly fire bombing.
"There's a lot of monuments out there that are static, and there's never going to be an opportunity for a lot of the family members to ever be able to get to those monuments," Fitzgerald said. "We thought of creating something to bring to the families of the fallen."
Among the 158 names of the fallen is that of Angela Reid's son Cpl. Christopher Reid, who was killed in 2006 by a roadside bomb.
"It just brings goosebumps," said Reid. "Not just our son, but all the names there, that they are remembered and now they will be remembered in another place and another time, which is wonderful."
For the memorial's founders- the reason they plan to take the monument to as many places in Canada as they can.
"It really fills my soul, it really drives me to do better, with what I've got," said Fitzgerald.
After this stop, the memorial will continue to spots in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, before going back to Kingston, Ont., but it is always ready to go where it's needed.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Heidi Petracek.