Marc Bence/for metro edmonton
Master Corp. Renay Grove loves being in the army.
And when she received word her first tour of duty in Afghanistan was coming up in September she decided to take a little piece of home to the troops overseas.
Since last November Grove has been working on a book called Notes From Home, a trove that now contains more than 17,000 signatures and messages from Canadians, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the son of a soldier killed in Afghanistan in July.
“This book was born because, wherever I go in uniform, people stop me to thank me. But they can’t thank the soldiers in Afghanistan, so I thought sending these messages would help the troops know Canadians are thinking about them,” said Grove at the Edmonton City Hall book signing yesterday.
The timing of the book’s visit was serendipitous, says Grove, a 13-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces.
As a memorial service was held at the Edmonton Garrison yesterday and 54 more troops from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry departed for Afghanistan only hours after 100 of their comrades returned from duty, Grove said it’s a time when families need to see support from people across the country.
“I wanted to pay my respects to the soldiers that protect us,” said Eva Smith, 11, of Edmonton. She and her mother went to City Hall to add their messages to the hundreds of pages that are interspersed with pictures, stickers and messages from the soldiers’ families, friends and strangers — all expressing their love, support and gratitude.
In June the book began its cross-Canada journey, which will end when Grove hand-delivers it to Afghanistan. There it will remain with its companion book, Tales From Kandahar, where soldiers based in Afghanistan can write messages to Canadians at home.
“There are 2,500 soldiers (in the Middle East) but we have hundreds of thousands of people here who are supporting them,” said Grove.