This stunning photo was provided by Simone Herrlinger Photography. It was created by combining two photographs – members of the Lorne Scots Regiment at the bottom and the Snowbirds in “Missing Man” formation at the top. Our thanks to Dr. Simone Herrlinger for permission to use this and other pictures on this page.
Click or tap on this photo to see a larger version.
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Overview of the Opening Ceremony
Bravery Park was unveiled to great fanfare and ceremony on September 3, 2021. It was truly the effort of a dedicated community to making this park a reality. The idea of this beautiful park was inspired by the death of local hero Cpl. Matthew McCully, who was killed in action in Afghanistan may 25, 2007. His family (sister Shannon McGrady and mother Valerie McGrady) was the driving force behind the memorial, along with the Royal Canadian Legion and dozens of local volunteers.
Due to Covid 19 restrictions the unveiling ceremony was attended by invitation only, but was well supported by veterans, sponsors and donors, local politicians, bands, armoured vehicles and local dignitaries. Speeches were given by many guest speakers including the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) William Adcock, former Canadian Forces sniper and spokesman Jody Mitic and Matthew McCully’s sister Shannon McGrady. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds did a flyover of the ceremony.
After the ceremony the guests were given a guided tour of Bravery Park.
Shannon McGrady’s Remarks
During her Opening Ceremony speech, Shannon McGrady conveyed a message of thanks for all who have served:
“And finally, our troops. The reason we are all here today. We are deeply honoured to have so many of you join us. Although this park is often portrayed as a memorial to my brother, it isn’t and never was. It was inspired by his legacy, but this park has always been about all of you.
“As a country, we do an incredible job of honouring our fallen soldiers. However, much of Canada remains unaware of the daily sacrifices you make to serve Canada and the world at large. You sacrifice months, even years, with loved ones to complete humanitarian and environmental missions all over the world. Some of these missions expose you to extreme devastation and danger, often having a lasting impact on your mental and physical health. For many of you, the sights, sounds and smells of these missions never go away.
“And yet despite everything you sacrifice, I’ve yet to meet a soldier or veteran that considers themselves a hero. You say it was your job, what you were trained to do. But it is far more than that.
“Many of us here today serve our communities, even our province, but you, you serve our country, and what a great country it is. You are Canada’s heroes and we are so very proud of you.
“This park honours you, your family, your sacrifices, your achievements, your bravery.
“Thank you for your service.”
Bravery Park opened officially on September 3, 2021. The Town of Orangeville has produced an excellent video of the ceremony, which you can view here.
Matthew was a member of the Lorne Scots Regiment. They also produced an excellent video of the ceremony which you can view here.
Below are pictures taken on the day of the Opening Ceremony. Others will be added as they become available.
Thanks to the Amaranth Lions Club and Simone Herrlinger Photography for many of these photographs.
The ceremony included:
- A Town Criers Proclamation
- An arrival parade of 85+ soldiers from the Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton) Regiment plus many Veterans from the Royal Canadian Legion
- The arrival of The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
- A Remembrance Service
- A fly past of the Canadian Forces Snowbirds in “Missing Man” formation during the Remembrance Service
- Land Acknowledgement
- Departure of The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
- The exit parade of the Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton) Regiment and the Veterans from the Royal Canadian Legion
- A tour of Bravery Park and a visit of on-site attractions. These included a Portraits of Honour Wall, a C24 Chafee Tank, a Light Armoured Vehicle (LAVIII) and Schneider’s Ride for Pride truck
Guest Speakers included:
- Valerie McGrady, mother of Corporal Matthew McCully
- Peter Prakke, horticulturist and founder of Bravery Park™. Peter’s vision is to have ‘allergy friendly’ areas dedicated to our veterans and the visitors of Bravery Park
- Shannon McGrady, sister of Corporal Matthew McCully
- Sandy Brown, Mayor of Orangeville
- Barry Kimber, President of the Royal Canadian Branch in Orangeville
- Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) William Adcock, former Commander of the Lorne Scots
- Master Corporal (Retired) Jody Mitic, a Motivation Speaker who lost both his legs below the knee in Afghanistan
- Sylvia Jones, Member of the Provincial Parliament for Dufferin-Caledon
- Karen Vandenberg, Community Elder
- The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
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Our thanks to:
Henry F. Verschuren CD, Parade Commander for Bravery Park
Henry, thank you for your keen eye, your dedication to duty and your love of this project. Your exceptional organizational and leadership skills not only guided us in our planning of this event, but led an impeccable parade, one that will stay in the hearts and minds of all who attended for years to come.
Andrew Welch – Town Crier and Master of Ceremonies
Andrew, your proclamation was the perfect way to kick off our event. As Master of Ceremonies, you beautifully captured the emotion that drove this project and it’s mission going forward-to educate and create awareness of our Canadian Soldiers. Thank you for helping to make our event so meaningful.
We also extend our heartfelt thanks to the following people and organizations:
The Goudreault family, owners of our local Tim Hortons for generously donating coffee, donuts and muffins for the 85+ troops on parade at the opening ceremony. Many of the troops came a long way to represent the Canadian Armed Forces and what a way to thank them.
Owners Jasbir, Asha, Nishan and Chantel of the 10 and 10 Garden Centre in Mono for the donation of flowers.