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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Highway of Heroes, written by Kathy Stinson. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2010. $21.95 ages 8 and up

"As the convoy continues along the highway,
up and down hills and through woods, past a
giant apple, barns, old shacks, and more boring
fields, the boy begins watching for the next bridge...
When they come to it, it too is crowded with

Of this very special route taken Kathy Stinson says:

"Each time a fallen soldier returns to Canada, thousands of ordinary Canadians from all walks of life line the bridges over the Highway of Heroes to pay their respects to the soldier and the soldier’s family."

It is an intense, and sorrowful book which also speaks of respect and honor for the men and women who serve their country, and often pay the highest price of all.

Kathy Stinson uses a combination of fact and fiction to relate the homage that is paid each time one of our fallen soldiers returns to Canada and makes the trip from CFB Trenton to Toronto. She begins with a young boy and his mother and the repatriation ceremony that welcomes his father back to Canada, his coffin draped with a Canadian flag. As they pass through the gates at Trenton he notices the many people there to pay their respects. He has no idea what will come next. Travelling slowly along the highway, he sees people crowding the bridge ahead. They are all standing there, some waving Canadian flags. At every bridge along the route they are more and more people...and fire trucks, school buses, cars and other vehicles. It is not long until he realizes they are there for his Dad...a real Canadian hero. As the trip to Toronto comes to an end, he experiences a sense of pride that he was not feeling when this journey began.
Many thousands of Canadian citizens have braved all kinds of weather to stand on the bridges for almost ten years to honor those soldiers, citizens and journalists killed in Afghanistan and on other missions. How did it happen? The last part of this book answers that question. One hundred and fifty-two brave Canadians have given their lives, and each time they come home to Canada they are welcomed with love and respect for themselves and their loved ones.
The book ends with an author's note:

"In an ideal world, no more fallen soldiers would travel the Highway of Heroes with their grieving families. Sadly, it is not a perfect world. At least we can be sure that whenever another soldier and his or her family make the trip, Canadians will again line up along the route to share their grief and their pride."


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