Hundreds of people paid tribute to John Gallagher on Friday afternoon, at overpasses along the 401 from the Toronto International Airport to Blenheim, including Elgin Road, Dorchester Road and Westchester Bourne. They braved the chilly weather to take part in the repatriation in honour the man who gave the ultimate sacrifice - his life.
Audrey MacDonald stopped at all of the three bridges, which were lined with residents, firefighters with their fire trucks, and a police presence. Lights were flashing and Canadian flags flying in the wind.
“All the firefighters were standing on the fire truck... quite a sight. As the procession went by, we were all quiet, many waving to the procession. It was very sombre. I felt privileged to be there. I hope the family and friends of John Gallagher were consoled throughout their 401 journey.”
MacDonald said she heard that every overpass from Toronto to Dorchester and beyond were covered in those who wanted to pay tribute. “I hope honour and pride replaced the family’s sadness, even if just for today.”
John Kjemtrup commented on Facebook that he thought it was a respectful gathering. “It was so nice to have so many of us there waiting until the procession had passed. A thank you to the police and firefighters keeping us updated on where the procession was.”
Gallagher, 32, of Wheatley, was killed earlier this month while fighting against ISIS alongside Kurdish fighters in Syria. The Canadian Heroes Foundation organized the repatriation.