Photo credit: JENNIFER SVAN/STARS AND STRIPES
LANDSTUHL, GERMANY – The Spirit Flame landed in Germany today and travelled to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre, a key surgical treatment centre for wounded soldiers, including Canadians who were injured in Afghanistan. The flame was originally lit during a moving ceremony at the Afghanistan Presidential Palace in Kabul on August 9, 2017 and represents the wounded warriors’ spirit that, despite injury or illness, still burns bright.
This was the second stop in a sequence of events retracing the journey home that many Invictus Games competitors have endured – from injury, to treatment, to the return home and their ensuing road to recovery.
The flame’s journey will culminate at the Invictus Games Opening Ceremony in Toronto on September 23, where it will be carried onto the stage by a Canadian competitor accompanied by family.
“As preparations for the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 reach their final phase, it is important to take a moment to remember why we are doing this. The brave men and women who arrived here were, for perhaps the first time in their lives, badly in need of someone else’s help. And they received it, here in Germany at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center with the help of the outstanding medical staff and the support for the families from Fisher House, they were able to begin to rebuild their lives. Without the care that they received here, many would not have made the journey to Invictus Games competitor and to be on their way to Toronto in September,” said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017.
Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Team Canada members Cpl. (retired) Chris Klodt, and co-captain Maj. Simon Mailloux were in Germany to receive the flame and to thank the medical staff there for saving their lives and returning them home to their families.
“A return to LRMC for me is quite an emotional time. This is where 10 years ago I was struggling for my life and I lost my leg. This is where doctors and nurses kept me alive. It will be a privilege to visit these people and to receive the Spirit Flame in transit from Kabul towards Toronto,” said Major Mailloux. “The Spirit flame, to me, is representing the ideals held by the soldiers who we lost over there. Personally, I will think of the soldiers fallen under my command and the Afghans and allies who suffered in combat with us. Holding it will be a duty and an honor.”
“For me the return to Landstuhl is an opportunity to express my gratitude to the people who made it possible for me to make the flight home. Not only were they good to me but I am forever grateful for the way they cared for my family during such a horrific time.” commented Cpl. (retired) Klodt.
Also in attendance was the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veteran Affairs Canada who acknowledged the importance of remembering this part of a soldier’s journey: “It is an honour to be able to participate in the ceremonies here at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to pay tribute to the indomitable spirit of Invictus Games competitors and to recognize the incredible, lifesaving work undertaken by its medical personnel on those Canadian forces injured in Afghanistan and other overseas operations. Our government is very excited to support this year’s Invictus Games in Toronto, as well as the many lead-up events occurring across our great nation which acknowledge and celebrate the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, our Veterans and their families.”
“Having the Spirit Flame follow the path wounded soldiers take to get home, honours their courage and dedication,” said the Honourable Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. “It also marks the final count down for the 2017 Invictus Games and reminds us of the unique opportunity the Games present for service members to build camaraderie and rediscover a sense of belonging. I look forward to welcoming the competitors to Ontario in September and being inspired by the dedication of these wounded warriors to compete and push themselves to their limit.”
As Mayor of the host city, Toronto, John Tory said: “There are less than two months to go until the Invictus Games and Toronto is ready to receive the Spirit Flame, cheer on the competitors and warmly welcome their friends, family and fans. We look forward to demonstrating why we are the greatest city in the world.”
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About the Invictus Games Toronto 2017
The Invictus Games use the power of adaptive sport to help wounded warriors on their journey to recovery. Established by Prince Harry, the inaugural Invictus Games took place in London in September 2014; the second, and equally successful, Games took place in Orlando in May 2016. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee is tasked with planning and executing a Games that will feature 550 competitors from 17 nations participating in 12 adaptive sports, including, for the first time, golf. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 will capture the imagination of the Canadian public, corporations, and governments, as well as soldiers, veterans, and their families. The Invictus Games Toronto 2017 are funded by the Government of Canada, Province of Ontario, City of Toronto as well as Presenting Partner Jaguar Land Rover and other partners and sponsors.