While on his road to recovery, one Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veteran travelled from coast to coast, visiting ten nursing homes in ten different provinces.
What started out as a journey to thank 150 veterans to give back to the veteran community, ended up being a life-changing learning experience for MCpl. (ret’d) Collin Fitzgerald and friend and co-founder of SerViCe & SacriFice (Soldier, Veteran, Civilian in honour of the Fallen), Kerri Tadeu.
Between May 27 and June 18, Fitzgerald and Tadeu travelled from British Columbia to Newfoundland to thank veterans, most from the World War Two and Korean War era.
As co-founders of SerViCe & SacriFice, Tadeu and Fitzgerald have made it a mission to help ill and injured veterans in helping themselves through our various educational initiatives. Part of SerViCe & SacriFice’s goals is to focus on honour Second World War era veterans for commemoration ceremonies.
The team was equipped with hundreds of thank you cards, filled out from children of the Longue Sault Public School in Kingston, ON.
Not only did the pair want to thank veterans as part of their civic duty and their organizational mandate, but Fitzgerald wanted to find a way to thank the veteran community for the years he had a chance to serve in the CAF, “that paved the way for Collin to have a great career in the military.”
It was important for Fitzgerald to meet the veterans of this era, all of whom were over the age of 95.
“They went up against a dictator that was looking to rule and control the world. Because of the veterans, who served admirably, within that time period… we, as Canadians, today have the freedoms that we have,” said Fitzgerald.
As he handed out the thank you cards to each veteran, Fitzgerald took the time to explain how the children were so grateful for their service and were now prepared to stand on guard for them, as they once had done for the country.
“The tears came flowing out of their eyes in joy,” remembered Fitzgerald.
One of the most important parts of the cross country tour for both Tadeu and Fitzgerald was being able to share the experience with each of their daughters. Tadeu’s daughter and Fitzgerald’s daughter joined the pair during their stops in Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland.
“Teaching the kids about what service and sacrifice is all about has been incredibly satisfying, incredibly gratifying, and enlightening…to inspire different ways to serve the country and your community,” commented Tadeu.
During this short time, the four were actually able to reach out to 600 veterans, 150 veterans each.
The experience was important for Fitzgerald so he could teach his daughter the importance of honouring the veterans of the past.
“I don’t ever want the passage of time to dilute the memories of these soldiers,” commented Fitzgerald.
For the three northern territories, that they couldn’t make it to, Tadeu and Fitzgerald made it a point to mail out hundreds of thank you cards.