I’m not home to Windsor very much these days. My wife Vicky and I live in Toronto where I go to school and where she works. Right now it is Thanksgiving weekend and I am thankful to be sitting with my mother in my old house on Belleperche Place reading the The Windsor Star. It feels so good to be home.
Thankfully, mom saved two articles for me to read about a couple of Windsor boys fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. And quite frankly I was wonderfully shocked to see you and your cousin wearing shades sitting in front of some impressive looking artillery.
What an article to read! Twice I had to stop and let the words sink into my brain, letting the amazement settle a little. I simply could not believe that my friend from gradeschool and highschool “was in the turret of a LAV-3, firing at the Taliban and trying not to hit his fellow soldiers as they retreated to the armoured vehicle.” That one really needed to sink in.
I have long been a fan of war movies and novels and consider myself to be an amateur student of war. When I went to Concord Public School, I did a report on tanks for Mr. Ashworth’s grade five class. In Mr. Mahadio’s grade four class I wrote on Winston Churchill. The latter is still one of my heroes and I have since collected a number of books by or about him. One of my all-time favourite movies is Band of Brothers, a series where I consistently cried through the battle scenes of each episode.
My wife’s grandmother is a cute, ninety-five year old Welsh woman who was a Captain in the Second World War. She led a unit of nurses (then known as “Sisters”) all over the world to tend to injured soldiers. Her stories are absolutely amazing and I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for the life that she led serving her country.
The purpose for this letter is to give you my respect and admiration as well. I share a lot of memories with you from our school days. But the memories you will share with your fellow soldiers overseas will be so much more significant. No longer are you the guy who thought he was Jim Morrison. The kid who got into trouble from Mr. Muir for pulling the gym change room lights on himself. You are no longer the guy who kept bugging me to take acid with him and skip school to watch Pink Floyd’s The Wall. You are now the guy who fights for freedom. Who stands against objective evil. You are the guy who protects his friends from Taliban insurgents. Quite frankly, you are a hero.
After reading the articles about you and Drew, a sense of pride swelled in my heart. Here am I, reading about a guy I used to party with, who is now a person of courage and grit. Not the shy singer of “Bleeding Feet,” but the guy who looks across the sands of Afghanistan wondering when the next bullet will scream across the sky.
My pastor in Essex fought with the Marines in Vietnam. No matter what one may have thought about that war, I know one thing: Pastor Valade is a hero. Although I am a strong supporter of the Canadian cause in Afghanistan, there are many Canadians, sadly, who are not. But no matter what one’s view of the war, our boys who are there are heroes. And I thank God that you are numbered among them.
I have committed myself to pray regularly for you and your cousin. My prayer is that God would protect the two of you from harm, that He would strengthen the bond of love between you and that you would be soldiers who fight with honour and dignity. May God, through Christ, reveal Himself to you on the fields of battle. May He show you that there is great meaning in what you do, even when those around you may die and everything seems useless. Always remember to never lose heart!
Concluding a long argument against pacifism, C.S. Lewis could say, “This, then, is why I am not a Pacifist. If I tried to become one, I should find a very doubtful factual basis, an obscure train of reasoning, a weight of authority both human and Divine against me, and strong grounds for suspecting that my wishes had directed my decision. As I have said, moral decisions do not admit of mathematical certainty. It may be, after all, that Pacifism is right. But it seems to me very long odds, longer odds than I would care to take with the voice of almost all humanity against me.”
I was very proud to see you in The Windsor Star. Be assured that what you are doing is good and that there are many of us back here in Canada who thank God for you.