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Mike Armstrong: A moment at the Humboldt memorial

Humboldt Broncos president Jaime Brockman said Wednesday he expects players will benefit from the focus and determination needed throughout the season, adding that the game "helps heal."

This town shouldn’t feel familiar.

I’ve never been to Humboldt, Sask., before. I shouldn’t recognize the welcome sign when you drive into town. I shouldn’t know the local arena has “Broncos” painted over the home bench.

And there’s no way I should recognize a remote intersection two hours outside town.

READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos set for emotional season home opener

But when you drive up to the corner of highways 35 and 335, it’s as though you’ve been there before.

Even though you only watched it on TV, maybe from the other end of this giant country, it feels like you know this place. Take my word for it.

Humboldt Broncos prepares for emotional home opener
Humboldt Broncos prepares for emotional home opener

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You notice the trees as you drive up. The truck driver and bus driver wouldn’t have seen each other approaching the intersection.

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You see the stop sign and the blinking red light. For some reason, the truck didn’t stop.

And then you see the memorial.

WATCH BELOW: A minute at the Humboldt memorial

A minute at the Humboldt memorial
A minute at the Humboldt memorial

It’s been just over five months since the tragic bus crash killed 16 and injured 13, and to be here, you feel the pain.

Flowers, hockey sticks, pucks, beers, jam … and messages. They’re written in black marker on white crosses.

“Rest in peace, my sweet. Love, Mommy.”

“I’m so proud of you my son. I will love you always. Dad.”

“I love you Adam. You are my big brother and I’m your little sister. Love you forever big brother. Love Tessa.”

“Happy 19th Evan. Love you. Miss you. Always in my thoughts. Love Grandma.”

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At some point, they’ll replace this memorial. It will likely be something big and permanent, with a plaque and names.

Whatever they choose, it won’t be as powerful as the white crosses with only first names … and messages from their loved ones.

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Mike Armstrong is a correspondent with Global National.

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