Portraits of Honour

A double ceremony recently held in Trenton Ontario meant for a full day of honour, respect and remembrance for our military personnel.

To begin with, the repatriation ceremony of Canada’s 156th fallen soldier, Bombardier Karl Manning, made its way down the Highway of Heroes to CFB 8 Wing. Attendees included government officials such as the Governor General David Johnston, family members and the public at large. This solemn event was followed by the beginning of a nation wide tour of the Portraits of Honour mural.

This hand painted mural is a staggering 10 foot by 40 foot memorial depicting, with striking precision, all Canadian soldiers, sailors and air crew that have given their lives to the war in Afghanistan.

The artist, Dave Sopha, is the son of a Canadian soldier and a British War Bride, and also a member of the service club Kin Canada in Cambridge Ontario. In response to the loss of Canadian soldiers since 2002, Dave began to do what he does best; paint. As an accomplished artist, he has painted many other military themed murals, but this one was to be his largest project yet. In December 2008 he began the daunting task of painting every single fallen member since the war in Afghanistan began, spending an average of 80 hours on each picture perfect portrait. His intention was to ‘remember, honour and celebrate.’ It was decided that this project needed nation wide attention.

This tour is an opportunity for thousands of Canadians coast to coast to remember and get up close and personal to the fallen men and women of the Canadian forces. The artists sketch of Bombardier Karl Manning was also on hand at the viewing on the base.

Dave Sopha’s passion and dedication is painfully appreciated each and every time one stands before the mural in awe of the sacrifice given by those who proudly wear the uniform. The mural was unveiled recently at its first national tour stop at the military base in Trenton. The reveal took place at The National Air Force Museum of Canada during a gala event hosted at CFB 8 Wing by Belleville’s Kin Canada. Bruce Airhart, a Kinsmen, was one of many volunteers on hand organizing this gala with the proceeds going to the Military Families Fund and also, he said, “to the Military Family Resource Centre located on the base. “ These military resources are in place to support the families of those fallen soldiers and further to support the injured soldiers that return home.

The seven month tour will see the mural travel coast to coast allowing thousands of Canadians to view this wall of remembrance. For more information and for the tour schedule visit http://www.portraitsofhonour.ca/


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