Today I stood at the side of the road, awaiting the passing vehicles that carried John Gallagher's body and soul.
John Gallagher was serving in Syria as a volunteer after retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces. Though he was fighting alongside Kurdish forces, his body was welcomed back to Canada on the highway of heroes.
Many people believe he shouldn't have been carried home the same way our fallen Canadian Forces heroes are carried, but I see that as a disgrace. This man, young and strong, volunteered his own life to do something many of us fear.
The awareness of the situation has become prominent in many peoples eyes, but today I witnessed a new kind of awareness as I stood with hundreds of strangers and respected a man who lead his own life into danger in order to do what he believed was right. John, and thousands of others, have lost their lives while fighting against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) - a terrorist organization pinned on controlling Central and Western areas of Iraq to turn it into a Sunni caliphate.
What many people are unaware of is that this war has been going on for multiple years; leaving millions with no homes, and thousands dead. Recently it has turned from controlling Iraq and Syria, to controlling all areas of the world. Everyday, thousands of refugees wash up on shores all over Europe, seeking any kind of humanity that will keep them safe and hopeful. John Gallagher lost his life fighting for these peoples freedom - along with his own - from ISIS. He didn't see himself as a superior, nor did he see himself as a race. He was a human, helping other humans. And today I witnessed humans. Thanking another human. I saw no race, no religion, and no difference in the emotions we all felt.
In the midsts of this war, regardless of where you live, remember the importance of knowing what humanity should stand for.
John knew, and his family can rest knowing that he did the right thing - and in doing so, he gave hope and honour to hundreds of people.