Saturday, July 19, 2008

#88 - Corp. James Hayward Arnal

I was enjoying my usual Saturday morning ritual of newspapers and coffee, listening to Jacinthe chattering away in French with her mom, and keeping one eye on CNN news on my laptop. She hung up the phone, and went off to the kitchen. I was just about to click over to the Globe and Mail online when the phone rang. It was my mother.

"Wendy's son in Afghanistan was killed last night".

This is my second cousin. You may have seen him on the news.

Corporal James Hayward Arnal is the 88th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan. An infantryman with the second battalion of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was rushed from the patrol in the volatile Panjwaii district to Kandahar Airfield, where he died from his injuries. He was on his second tour of duty after volunteering for the Canadian Forces four years ago. Previously, he had worked in information technology.
Platoon mates described Arnal as "professional, dependable and utterly fearless under enemy fire," said Brig.-Gen. Denis Thompson. "Clearly, he was a dedicated soldier with a very promising career ahead of him."

Wendy is my first cousin, and James was her second son. He was named for his grandfather, James Hayward, my mother's brother - who is a retired career military officer.

88 Canadian men and women - soldiers, peacekeepers, peacemakers. 88 too many. I support our troops absolutely - like all Canadian soldiers, James volunteered for this job, knowing the risks, weighing them against the rewards of service to his country. We send our troops out with the hope that they come home alive - and that is the risk we take as Canadians making a contribution to global good government.

I am stopping myself from going into a full scale politicized rant on world peace, global disarmament, the role of the military as peacekeepers, the responsibilities of the developing world in guiding the developing world into "democracy" and many other threads currently being spun by anger and pain. There will be a time and place for that somewhere in the future.

Right now - to my extended family - scattered across the West of this wonderful country - I join you in grief. To Wendy and her immediate family, sisters, parents - my heart and prayers go out to you. We used to get together at weddings. I will be so sad to see you later this week, but it will be good to stand with you at this time.

and to James' fellow soldiers in Afghanistan - come home safe. come home soon. come home alive. This Opinionated Canadian Woman supports you - but not the government that puts you in harms way.

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