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PAYING TRIBUTE TO LOCAL HEROES

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April 4, 2012
By Blair McQuillan

There has always been a special bond between those in uniform and the relationship between police officers and military personnel has always been strong. York Regional Police is committed to strengthening that bond by honouring military veterans and current members of the Canadian Forces.

The Welcome Home Initiative

was created and spearheaded by Inspector Gary Miner. Officers, firefighters and paramedics gather together to welcome local soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. The war veterans first receive an escort from the airport to their front door, where they are greeted by a group of first responders, family, friends and members of the public.

The most recent veteran to be welcomed home was Major Steve Kiss, who returned to his residence in the Township of King in March. Kiss, a member of the 32nd Brigade and a volunteer firefighter, served ten months overseas as an advisor to the Afghan National Army in Kandahar.

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has taken on special meaning for several members of York Regional Police in recent years as they have welcomed their children home from Afghanistan. Inspector Rick McCabe and Customer Service Supervisor Deb McCabe were proud to greet their daughter Gunner Jennifer McCabe when she returned home from her tour of duty in December 2010. Kathy Sparks of the Technical Support Unit was also reunited with her son Corporal Mike Sparks as part of an emotion-filled homecoming.

The Recognition Stone

In November 2011, York Regional Police proudly unveiled the Recognition Stone, a massive tribute to Canadian Forces personnel both past and present.

More than 200 veterans, peacekeepers, current military personnel, police, fire and EMS members, as well as local citizens, attended the unveiling at #3 District Headquarters in the Town of Georgina.

Members of the Canadian Forces, their families, friends, loved ones and members of the general public are encouraged to stop by anytime to pay tribute to those who fought or are fighting for our freedom.

The project was led by Sergeant Gary Phillips of the Corporate Communications Bureau and a committee of eight dedicated York Regional Police members.

“Our hope was to honour our local war heroes by creating a permanent site to recognize them each and every day of the year and we have succeeded,” Phillips said.

The impressive granite structure is eight-feet long, five-feet high, 10-inches thick and weighs in at 7,500 pounds. The Recognition Stone has been registered in the National Inventory of Canada Military Memorials so that Canadians can learn about the significance of this special site.

The Remembrance Project

In 2009, York Regional Police launched the , an initiative to honour local veterans. More than a dozen veterans have been interviewed and their written legacies are posted on the York Regional Police website.

The project continues to expand as more veterans from past and current conflicts share their memories with York Regional Police from their time in the military.