I was walking Judd the Rockweiler this evening. It was raining rather heavily and we were on one of those back alleys that exist in our neighbourhood of James Bay. For no reason that I can think of, no connection other than perhaps the more sombre mood the rain brings on one, I thought of MCpl Byron Greff. He was the young Canadian soldier killed by a Taliban suicide bomber on our Afghanistan deployment a few months ago. . . . . Still slogging through the rain,with Judd sniffing everything in sight, my mind continues to wander along the same train of thought. I think of the Remembrance Day ceremony we conducted at little Camp Alamo, just a couple of weeks after Mcpl Greff’s death. There were approximately 250-300 of we Canadians and a couple hundred other military members from other countries of the coalition. Most of our coalition partners had never seen this uniquely Canadian ceremony, with most countries honouring their war dead on dates other than 11 November and several countries holding no ceremonies at all.
The piper for the remembrance ceremony was Corporal Steven Wilson, a close friend of MCpl Greff. It wasn’t his breath that filled the bag pipes, it was pure emotion! Never have I heard ‘The Lament’ and other Rembrance Day hymns played with such feeling. I didn’t know the bagpipes could even convey such longing and sadness, but on 11 November 2011, in Camp Alamo, Kabul Afghanistan, Cpl Wilson played them as if he was the only soldier there and was making a personal farewell to his friend and comrade-in-arms, Byron Greff.
As Judd and I walked on, the rain on my face was mixed with tears . .. .