As I watched Newsnet the other night from my hotel room, the ticker on the bottom of the screen, screamed "Six Canadians Killed by a Roadside Bomb in Afghanistan". Bad news from the other side of the world does travel fast in this day and age and events like this never get easy. Images of a flag draped casket being loaded onto a plane bound for Canada is something that we here in this country never get used to. In the past the names and faces of our young men and women end up on Newscasts across the country. Their young ages, home towns, reaction from friends, comrades and family remind us that these fine young people were indeed special.
This event would be no different. As information became available, names, and the Base of the fallen were released. Five of the six were soldiers of 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment based at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick. My heart sank. This was the same Regiment that had looked after me and reporter Phonse Jessome during our assignment in Northern Bosnia in 1996. Since our tour there many years ago I had always had a special affinity for the Regiment.
I needed to know more.
A report from Kandahar, telling the viewer what had happened on that dusty road. A roadside explosion, an official statement from the ranking officer, all standard fare. Then all at once the story became very personal. A reaction from one of the families, the mom and dad of Pvt. David Greenslade of Saint John , New Brunswick.
I did not recognize the name, but I did recognize the voice and image of his mother. She had been someone I had grown up with. I had known her and her twin sister since kindergarten. We had been next door neighbours as teens and graduated in the same graduating class from Saint John High School in 1980.
My God, I could not believe it.
The sad fact is Laurie is far too young to have become a Silver Cross Mother. I cannot even imagine the pain that she and her husband as well as the rest of both the Greenslade and Lester families are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with them.