May history never forget Cpl. Paul James Davis, the Canadian soldier who died on duty (but not in combat) defending democracy and Western civilization.
I was especially moved by the words of his father, Jim Davis, who in an interview aired on CBC Radio's The World At 6, said that he knew when the towers fell that his son, already enlisted, would go to war. He urged those listening not to give up, but to "follow through" with the mission.
But darned if I can't find that quote anywhere on the news sites. I guess "following through" in Afghanistan is about a popular topic for the media as success in Iraq.
I scoured every online news source I could think of: CBC, CTV, Global, Yahoo. The articles on newspaper sites for The Globe and Mail and the National Post had a similar dearth. They all did include the following phrase from the grieving father:
"He died in the service of his country and he died doing the service for the free world."
But none of them mention the "follow through" comment. CTV comes close:
"I believed in what he was doing 100 per cent and to his friends in Afghanistan, if they're listening to me, I want them to know I'm 100 per cent behind all of them."
I'm amazed at this dad's character: to recognize the importance of the sacrifice his son had made is a tremendously selfless act. One thing's for sure, he's no Cindy Sheehan.
What I'm really wondering is how can the CBC's radio network's flagship evening news program, with time at a premium, let us know more of what this man had to say than any of the Canadian media websites? Does the internet not have capacity for the "follow through" phrase? Or are the editors of these sites all of the mindset that it's not worthy of print?
Still, a widow and two toddlers are in mourning here, and I don't want to distract from that. May the peace of the Lord be with them. May these kids grow up well, and understand.
I always find it tacky when people put poems on their blogs, but I feel this is somewhat warranted:
Ode to the Known Unto God
I stand in front of your casket,
You whose bones have rotted for eighty years,
And a single tear forces its way past my control.
I whisper, "Thank you,"
And pray, "God, bless this man,"
Then turn and quietly walk away.
You did not die in splendor
Or even in glorious self-sacrifice.
You were probably quite frightened,
Merely obeying the orders of your superior
To taste the enemy's lead.
You may have died poorly.
Perhaps you cried for your mother
Or lost control of your bowels.
Perhaps you were completely dismembered
And felt no pain at all.
Would the Hun have conquered here if you had lived?
Does your death have meaning by itself
Or does it require the company of thousands?
Or do we simply require one death less than the enemy?
How mysterious, that the dead can free the unborn!
And now, eighty years later,
I remember you.
I will not forget your loss,
Lest I forget my fortune.
*written May 27, 2000 - the day before the Unknown Soldier was entombed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa