ANAVETS Shoulder to Shoulder

July 2017

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Afghanistan veteran Collin Fitzgerald hugs fellow vet Nick Kerr after completing their journey on April 21 in Trenton, Ontario. They were joined by Kerri Tadeau in an effort that took most of April, spending 11.5 hours a day cleaning up the garbage and debris from the Highway 401 interchanges along the Highway of Heroes, from Keele Street in Toronto to Trenton. TRENTON - For a dedicated trio, it's about SerViCe to their country, the fallen and their families. For three weeks, Kerri Tadeu, Master Cpl. (Retired) Collin Fitzgerald and Cpl. Nick Kerr have been serving their country the best way they can. Since April 1, the Kingston-based trio have been getting up at 4 a.m. and cleaning all the on- and off-ramps along both sides of the 172-km. stretch of the Highway of Heroes from Keele Street in Toronto to Trenton. The capitalized letters in SerViCe stand for Soldier, Veteran and Civilian. Tadeu is the co-founder of SerViCe, and serves as the civilian. Fitzgerald serves as the veteran, and Kerr as the soldier. Fitzgerald was one of the first recipients of the Medal of Military Valour for his actions on May 24, 2006, when he repeatedly exposed himself under enemy fire by entering a burning military vehicle that had been damaged from an improvised explosive device. He successfully drove the vehicle off the roadway, allowing the others in the convoy to escape the ambush. Tadeu was good friends with Major Michelle Knight-Mendes of Grafton, who died in Afghanistan. "When Major Michelle Knight-Mendes came home from Afghanistan in 2009, I received an education about the service and sacrifice of our fallen," she said last week during a break from her work. "When I knew better, I started doing better." For the past eight years, Tadeu has been remembering her friend and creating a legacy in her honour. Last November, the three led an initiative to adopt a 1.18-km. stretch of the Highway of Heroes near Knight-Mendes's home town. But they weren't prepared for the show of support, with numerous friends and family members of Knight-Mendes (as well as strangers) turning out to help. They collected 38 bags of garbage from the event. "In remembering our fallen, part of our initiative with SerViCe, we never want our fallen names to dilute with the passage of time," Tadeu said. "We then had the idea to adopt the entire 172 km. of the Highway of Heroes and have the 158 fallen remembered with individual signs, as well as the four civilians that were killed in Afghanistan with four big signs." Pursuing the idea through the province's Adopt-A-Highway program, they had extensive meetings with organizations including the Ministry of Transportation before the papers were signed making the adoption official. But part of the agreement was no one was to know because of safety concerns, in case others wished to help. Between May 6 (a day close to National Day of Honour) and Canada Day, the Ministry of Transportation will be installing four big signs representing the four civilians killed in the Afghanistan war and 158 signs to honour the 158 soldiers lost in the war — 79 signs on the west side of the 401, 79 on the east. 10 SHOULDER TO SHOULDER HEROIC HIGHWAY CLEANUP By Pete Fisher, Post Media - Northumberland Today

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