Picture if you will a blond haired toddler with big blue eyes and an impish crooked smile. A little boy who loves life and loves his family. One who plays in the cool water of a galvanized tub in the backyard during the heat of summer. Turn the clock forward to his teen years where this young man develops a love of sports and loves to joke around and play games with his siblings. Who is always willing to lend a helping hand and a listening ear. This tender-hearted and compassionate man joins a response team which travels to communities after natural disasters. Helping and serving others is as normal as breathing for him. As this young man grows into adulthood he makes the choice to join the military and serve his country. He goes through intense training with his comrades and serves with honour. As a member of special forces, he goes on many tours and missions without his family’s knowledge of where he would go or how long he may be gone.
Fast forward twenty years and this now seasoned veteran is still serving but on the home front. He is looking forward to retirement and making plans with his best friend, his wife of living in the country closer to family. What we see on the outside is a fit and strong soldier who carries himself with poise and dignity. One who smiles easily and loves those closest to him deeply. He is wiser and more wary of the world around him but continues to show up and lead those under his command.
What we don’t see is the horrors of war this soldier has carried home with him. How the horrendous missions and acts of war he witnessed haunts his sleep continuously.
Soldiers, like this man, are heroes. They love and protect their countries and families with everything in their beings. They are the reason we can sleep easy at night and the reason we celebrate Veteran’s and Remembrance Days. Too often, these warriors come home so broken they cannot recover fully from trying to outrun the demons that chase them. This courageous man was so full of life and was deeply loved. It is in his memory we carry on and aspire to be the kind of selfless person he truly was.
Rest in Peace my dear nephew. You are a hero. We are so proud of you. You will never be forgotten.