Thursday, December 11, 2008

Canada's 100 War Dead

The Canadian people know the name and story of all 100 The average age of Canada's war dead in Afghanistan is 29 years old. Every time a death is announced, I check to see if Canada has remained true to its promise not to send children into war. There are no teenagers amongst the 100. The down side to sending adults into war is that they have dependents - 38 women and one man have now been deprived of a spouse. The war dead have left behind 63 children, ranging in age from adult to infant.

My oldest son tried to join the regular forces when he was in Gr. 11. My husband intervened. He talked to both his reserves commander and the recruitment office and told them not to accept his application until he had his Grade 12 diploma. It really wasn't an issue - the regular forces makes it difficult - almost impossible for a kid without a high school diploma to enlist.

When I look at those 100 faces, I know I am looking at the faces of committed adults who made a decision to serve their country. They paid the ultimate sacrifice because they believed in the mission. They weren't tricked into enlisting. They weren't immature kids with some movie idea of what war was all about. Even after basic training, the military doesn't send someone to Afghanistan just because they volunteer to go. Those soldiers had to prove that they had the maturity and preparation required to make sound decisions under extremely stressful conditions.

It hurts to watch each coffin return. The difference between a child soldier and an adult soldier is that we believe an adult has to do what an adult feels called to do. Life is a gift - a mother brings a child into the world and then steps back and watches what her child decides to do with this wonderful gift. Some mothers wait for the return of flag draped coffins. I watch them and cry but I get it. They did what mothers are supposed to do - they produced adults capable of making difficult, dangerous choices. It's important to look at the faces of the fallen - lest we forget.

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