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Portraits of Honour unveiled in Picton

Prince Edward County Mayor Peter Mertens greets Portraits of Honour artist Dave Sopha.

8 Wing Trenton's Lt-Col Dave Alexander congratulates artist Dave Sopha.

County school children waved Canadian flags, the Royal Canadian Legion Colour Party and 851 Royal Canadian Air Cadets stood in honour and as The Portraits of Honour was unveiled, some had tears in their eyes.
The 10′ x 50′ hand-painted mural of the 156 members of the Canadian Forces who have lost their lives in Afghanistan was unveiled at the Picton fairgrounds Monday – the 67th anniversary of D-Day – as part of a journey across the country.
“As we recall Bombardier Karl Manning, the 156th soldier to die in Afghanistan just last week, repatriations are a constant reminder that what we do every day is not without sacrifice,” said 8 Wing Trenton’s Lt. Col Dave Alexander. “Sacrifices must not be in vain and can never be forgotten. Every member in uniform is surrounded by community and family. The Portraits of Honour pays tribute to losses from entire communities and families.”
The Portraits of Honour was created over more than 6,500 hours by Cambridge Kinsman and artist Dave Sopha, an airbrush artist whose brother’s son was in Afghanistan when the 100th Canadian soldier was brought home for repatriation. Sopha says his work won’t be complete until the combat mission in Afghanistan comes to a close in July.

Visitors to the Portraits of Honour Tour in Picton signed Canadian flags and made donations to support military families.

“I realized I had to do something when I saw that 100th soldier come home. Air brush only lasts 40-50 years so I knew it had to be done in oil on flawless canvas so it would last 500 years and this is my first oil painting,” Sopha told the crowd to a great round of applause. “My main goal is to allow Canadians to honour, celebrate and show respect for the young men and women who wear the Canadian uniforms.”
The mural’s cross-country tour will collect money for the Military Family Fund and aims to raise $1.5 million through donations. At Kinette Club of Picton presented $1,584; the Kinsmen $500 and the Royal Canadian Legion $300. Funds raised will support the Military Families Fund and established military charities to assist families of the fallen and to assist the thousands of military personnel who return home with physical or emotional injuries.

Kinette Sue Eastbury with the pin she designed to help raise funds for military families. The pin is available at Mayhew Jewellers.

The Kinette Club of Picton brought the national tour to Picton and its members planned the special ceremony in honour of its visit. The ceremony included performances from Jeanette Arsenault and by Instant Rivalry.
“This is one of only four stops that the portrait will make during the month of June in this area and it will not be returning,” says Kinettes president Susan Eastbury.  “There are so many brave men and women who proudly wear the uniform of the Canadian Forces and so many strong families who remain behind to support them,” said Eastbury. “Many of them need financial assistance. We needed to make sure that every dollar raised quickly finds its way to the people who most need it, and that our contribution will make a measurable difference in their quality of life.”
For information on the Portraits of Honour National Tour visit www.portraitsofhonour.ca.

The crowd applauds as school children wave their Canadian flags.

The County's Jeanette Arsenault sang her 'This Is My Canada' song. Artist Paul Sopha told her he was so moved by the song he will take it along for the rest of the cross-Canada tour.

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