For a good many years I was privileged to represent Canada in the annual Memorial Day Parade in Naugatuck, Conn., both in marching at the front of the parade and also in singing the anthems of the nations recognized by that community. Tom Fitzgerald was the community light that made that international participation happen and along with one of your great veterans, the late Frank Johnson, I got to experience the care veterans took in remembering those who gave their lives for their country.
Although there is one day specifically set aside to remember, every day should have some sort of thought about families and friends who lost loved ones. Today, Sept. 11, 2013 we in Canada remember those who died in the terrorist attacks on your country 12 years ago and to that end I tell this poignant story of my visit to Memorial Day in Naugatuck on May 31, 2004.
Wearing my red jacket of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Frank Johnson and I completed our regular routine at the town square and then I was invited to go with him to the Country Club Estates where Jean Dobbin and the local community were unveiling a memorial to a young soldier who had lived amongst them and who was tragically killed in Iraq in 2003. I was with his family as I sang America the Beautiful, as the David Travis Friedrich Memorial was dedicated. The Stars and Stripes was at half mast and hung limp on the flag pole. On a stone ledge beneath the flag pole were china figurines of a family, a mother, father, daughter and son. While I sang, a gust of wind came up and the flag knocked one of the figurines off the ledge, shattering it on the stone walk. It was the son. I have a lasting memory of that dramatic event.
This past week, I received a card of thanks from his parents as they commemorate the 10th anniversary of Travis’ death on Sept. 20, 2013. This is an opportunity to remember all bereaved families affected by terrorism and wars. We should never forget.
Garth Hampson, Retired RCMP