Sunday, 27 July 2011 (57 photos)

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Portraits of Honour tour

 

VACSTC hosts Portraits of Honour Exhibition

“This has been the best welcome we’ve had in two months on the road,” said Sean Libin, the National Operations Manager of the Portraits of Honour tour of their stop at Vernon Army Cadet Summer Training Centre (VACSTC).

Greeted by the Military Police assigned to the centre for the summer, the huge trailer was greeted by an honour guard of cadets from the Drill and Ceremonial Course as it turned onto Dieppe Square.

Originally scheduled as a private showing for the cadets at VACSTC, the venue was changed to the parade square across Highway 97 from the main camp when it was discovered the tractor-trailer unit was too large to manoeuvre inside the gates, therefore opening it to the public. With fewer than 24 hours before the arrival, Major Judy Peter, the Deputy Commanding Officer organized the honour guard, the flag party, the musicians, the padre and the seating in addition to contacting local dignitaries.

After an introduction to the project by artist Dave Sopha, The Portraits of Honour mural, which stretches 10 feet tall by 40 feet wide and features the faces of the 155 Canadian soldiers, sailors and aircrew who have lost their lives in Afghanistan was unveiled. Sopha had worked on the project for 16 hours a day since 2008 when he began the project. “It won’t be finished until the last member is home,” he said. At one side of the mural hung two pencil sketches and these portraits will be added soon.

As the summer sun slid towards the Okanagan hills, visitors and cadets signed the book of remembrance and slowly walked past the portraits. There were tears.

For Sergeant Sean Laloge of the Seaforth Highlanders, the mural brought back strong memories. He recognized eight of the faces and had known five of them well.

Cadet Warrant Officer Tom Robins of Powell River was impressed by the artist’s work. “My dad always tells me that if you work hard at something, you can achieve results.” He added that he thought the Portraits of Honour tour would have a positive effect on the public’s opinion of the military.

2Lt Roberta Bush, whose cadet corps is affiliated with the Lake Superior Scottish, said that it was shocking to see the reality of the painting and “weird to see Anthony Boneca” whom she knew from Thunder Bay. “Having his portrait on the mural means that he’s not alone in his sacrifice,” she added, noting that the inclusion of the poppies into the design meant that the symbol usually connected with the two world wars has become part of our living history.

Sergeant Mike Adams from 1 Service Battalion in Edmonton, who is spending the summer as a Training Advisor for the Drill and Ceremonial Course, sat quietly until the visitors and cadets filed past the portraits, waiting until the crowd thinned out before he searched out four close friends he had served with. One had trained him, and he had trained the other three. “I’m honoured that the project has been accepted by the public,” he said.

For VACSTC Commanding Officer Lt-Col Lyle Johnson, it was a “very special evening for both cadets and the travelling group. The cadets displayed their thoughtfulness and respect and the people on the tour were impressed with the behaviour of the cadets and all aspects of the presentation.”
On a personal level, Lt-Col Johnson was humbled and saddened by the need to create such a project, but proud to have Canadians who can create such a wonderful memorial.

For Sean Libin, in an email to Major Peter, it was, “a ceremony that I will never forget and we can only hope that your cadets got as much out of it as we did.”

 

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the arrival of the Portraits of Honour (VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

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A cadet sings the national anthem  (VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

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His worship, Mayor Wayne Lippert (VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

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Padre Jack Greenhalgh (VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

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Piper's Lament (VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

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LCol Lyle Johnson and artist Dave Sopha (VACSTC/Wayne Emde)

 

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The Story Behind the Mural

 

The Portraits of Honour mural stretches 10 feet tall by 40 feet wide and features the faces of the 156 Canadian soldiers, sailors and aircrew who have lost their lives in Afghanistan.
Originally started in artist Dave Sopha’s home, it quickly took up too much space and was moved into the basement space of Kin Canada’s headquarters located in Cambridge, Ontario.

Since he began in December of 2008, Dave has painted an average of 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. Despite efforts to have him slow down, Dave cannot seem to tear himself away from his mural. He feels an overwhelming obligation to each soldier, sailor and aircrew, and to each of their families to make each portrait perfect. And he has. In fact, if you point a newer model digital camera at any portrait, it will “ask you” if you want red-eye reduction as it is tricked into recognizing a human face.

Dave will continue to paint until our mission is completed and our troops return home. 

 

 

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Today's weather: Max Temp. 25c  Min Temp.   13c sunny and light scattered showers 


This day in Canadian Military History...

27 July 1758
The French fortress of Louisbourg surrenders to an Anglo-American army after withstanding a 7 week siege which has reduced the stronghold to rubble.



27 July 1953
At 10:00 this evening the guns fall silent in Korea as an armistice takes effect. Canadians and other United Nations troops have been fighting for three years against the aggressions of the North Koreans and Chinese. For their effort, 516 Canadians have lost their lives, 1202 have been wounded and 33 taken as prisoners of war.

 

Army Cadet Corps formed on this day

27 July 1942
#287 Digby Academy Cadet Corps