By Lilia Mickenzie
Edited by Margaret Ferrell
The 2016 Invictus Games, a Paralympic event, were held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, FL from Sunday May 8th until Thursday May 12th. First begun as the statewide Colorado Warrior Games, it was through international interest that the games ascended to global phenomenon and acknowledged as the Invictus Games. The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry of Wales visited the Colorado games in 2013 while on an official engagement, and as a Veteran himself, he was inspired to create a popularized version to honor disabled and wounded vets the world over. Prince Harry was able to positively utilize his resources to make the games international. While this year’s Invictus Games were held here in the United States, they were in fact the second global Paralympic event. The first was held in 2014 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London, England.
This year’s opening and closing ceremonies were attended by many celebrities, politicians, honorable veterans, and other people of high importance. Michelle Obama attended the opening ceremony alongside George W. Bush and Laura Bush. There were amazing musical performances by Laura Wright and James Blunt to kick off the start of the Invictus Games along with military performances by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army Herald Trumpets and the U.S. Army band. There were also emotional narratives from wounded Veterans Israel Del Toro Jr., John-James Chalmers and Louis Nethercott. Actor Morgan Freeman also paid tribute with a short speech.
The closing ceremony was both emotional and honorable, as it displayed all the week’s events with many pictures and videos. There were 500 competitors from 15 nations, and their friends and family watched as honors were presented. Politicians such as Vice President Joe Biden and the Second Lady attended the closing ceremony, and there was musical entertainment and performances by Rascal Flatts, Phillip Phillips, Jordan Smith, Rachel Platten and Flo Rida.
Prince Harry thanked everyone for coming and being a part of the Invictus Games, and following a blast of Fireworks the Invictus flag was officially handed down. It was given to Bruno Guévremont, 2016 Team Canada captain, and Michael Burns, chief executive officer of the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 Organizing Committee. The flag will reside in Toronto, Canada where the 2017 Invictus games will be held from September 26th to 30th.