The Invictus Spirit Flame was lit today during a moving ceremony at the Afghanistan Presidential Palace in Kabul.
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – The Invictus Spirit Flame was lit today in Afghanistan during an emotional ceremony at the Afghanistan Presidential Palace in Kabul. The flame will make its way to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany later this month before returning to the 2017 hosting city, Toronto, to light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony in September. Lighting the Spirit Flame will symbolize the journey of many service members from the battlefield to the Invictus Games.
“Many Invictus Games competitors served and became ill or injured in Afghanistan,” said Michael Burns, CEO, Invictus Games Toronto 2017. “In fact, 14 of the 17 nations participating in the 2017 Invictus Games had service personnel killed or injured there. Afghanistan is now also indelibly woven into the national fabric of Canadian military history. It is fitting that the Invictus Spirit Flame be lit in Kabul.”
The ceremony had many speakers, such as Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan, and Gen. John Nicholson, commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, as well as dozens of Afghan officials. Kenneth Neufeld, Canadian Ambassador to Afghanistan also spoke.
“In order to stand here in freedom, thousands have lost their lives. Freedom is a product of this collective sacrifice.” said President Ghani. “There is a bond of blood between our soldiers and our peoples, in a cause they have considered to be greater than themselves: it is for the safety of generations to come, and of the world. Invictus represents the triumph of will over adversity”.
“Invictus is the Latin word for ‘unconquered.’ I cannot think of a better way to describe the brave Afghans who continue to fight for their country,” said Gen. Nicholson.
The flame was passed from Afghan veteran Maj. Ahmad Shah to retired MCpl. Jody Mitic, 20-year Canadian veteran and official ambassador of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017. Mitic was on his third tour overseas, this time in Afghanistan, when he lost both his feet after stepping on a landmine.
“It makes sense that the Invictus Spirit Flame would be lit in Kabul. After all, this is where the lives of so many Canadian soldiers changed dramatically,” said Jody Mitic. “To be a part of an initiative that would provide such vivid context to the realities of service and sacrifice endured by our servicemen and women was an opportunity I could not refuse.”
After Kabul, the flame will travel to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre where Team Canada competitor retired Cpl. Chris Klodt and Team Canada co-captain Maj. Simon Mailloux will receive the flame. Members of Team Canada will have the opportunity to thank the medical staff for saving their lives and giving them the opportunity to return home to their families.
The flame will conclude its journey 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 their family. The ‘I AM’ cauldron will then be lit, marking the start of the 2017 Invictus Games.
“As a former Chief of Defense Staff, I can’t think of a better way to honor the service and sacrifice made by our soldiers, sailors, airmen, air women, special forces troopers and their families,” said retired Gen. Rick Hillier. “This journey will bring great attention and focus on the issues facing our military, veterans and their families and why the Invictus Games are an important part of their healing and recovery.”