Yes, on this day, September 25, 2017, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry made their first public debut, side by side, at the Invictus Games in Toronto.
Now that we got that out of the way, I feel inclined to speak to Torontonians about the heart of the Invictus Games. That’s not to say that we are not thrilled to see that their first outing happened in our country, but there’s so much more about the Invictus Games than romance. Nuff said!
For centuries, brave men and women have gone to war to fight for their country. Many had visible physical injuries, such as lost limbs, bullet wounds, and even a prolonged grueling death. But what comes out of the war, for each and every soldier, is the mental repercussions. No matter if they were hurt in the line of duty or not, they have seen the unfathomable and experienced a World in turmoil that we can only begin to imagine.
What is the Invictus Games?
The Invictus Games is an international Paralympic-style multi-sport event, created by Prince Harry, in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports, including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, and indoor rowing. Harry articulated at the opening ceremonies about his interest in starting the Games after his military deployment to Afghanistan in 2008. As he was waiting on a plane, a Danish soldier’s coffin was loaded onto the plane by his friends. There were also three British soldiers with induced comas and with missing limbs on the plane.
He spoke directly to the competitors: “Some of you have cheated death and come back stronger than before. You are all winners. You are proving to the world anything is possible.” His message was powerful and meaningful on many levels.
Mike Myers, a popular Hollywood actor and proud Canadian, also spoke at the opening ceremonies. His message, like Harry’s, spoke of our soldiers courage and determination to ensure we continue to live in freedom, now and forever.
Tragedy and Triumph in One Room
However, it wasn’t Prince Harry’s speech that evening that inspired me. It happened well before 8:00 AM that Saturday morning as I walked into the Sheraton Centre Hotel, the main hub for participants, family, and media. I saw the lost limbs, yet joyous spirits and hearty laughter. Never have I experienced tragedy and exhilaration all at one time. It was only during lunch when I was listening to a conversation between a few Canadian competitors, who were physically fit with all limbs in tow, did I realize this. The scars of war are far deeper than physical and the Invictus Games is about moving forward and perseverance for ‘all’ those that suffer – mentally and physically.
We Challenge Torontonians
After our experience at Invictus, we challenge all Torontonians to get involved by attending an Invictus competition this week. Talk to the competitors if you see them at a restaurant. Help them out by being a tour guide. Many of these participant may not have fought for our country, but they all share the war wounds and stories of our fellow soldiers.
I can’t wait to attend my next event and the We Day Celebrations on Thursday night. That kind of spirit only comes once in a while to make us realize that life is great and we must appreciate those who have done so much for our freedom.
Invictus Games Opening Ceremony Photo Gallery