Originally published on the DaninOttawa.com site on July 27, 2011.
Today I had the honour of attending the Kin Canada Portraits of Honour tribute to honour the one hundred and fifty seven brave men and women who have lost their lives while serving in Afghanistan. Listening to the artist Dave Sopha, the project began for Mr. Sopha out of concern for his nephew who was serving in Afghanistan. With the announcement of each death, often on the late night news, Mr. Sopha would hold out hope that it would not be the son of his brother whom he would see on a daily newspaper the next day. However the sense of relief would be short lived with the growing realization that each loss would be deeply felt by another family. As an artist and a Kinsman Dave Sopha decided to take action and dedicated this work to honour those fallen soldiers and the family left behind.
One of those fallen soldiers was Captain Jonathan Snyder of Penticton. I did not know Capt. Snyder personally, though he was only five years younger then I at the time of his passing. However his father, Mr. David Snyder, was one of my favourite teachers in high school at Penticton Secondary. Mr. Snyder left a strong impression with me as a teacher who cared and wanted to make a difference to all of his students much as he had with me. Today was my first day meeting with Mr. Snyder as a Member of Parliament. Only today, Mr. Snyder was no longer my high school English teacher but rather a grieving parent understandably mourning the loss of his son and trying to find meaning in his heartbreak.
There are no words that can describe the magnitude of loss for the Snyder family. As to the meaning of the loss I believe that will be left for the test of time to decipher. As a Member of Parliament I have had a chance to meet with those who have served and hear more directly about the work that we as a country have done in Afghanistan. This work may not be in the headlines, nor may it be as noted and as appreciated for the significance of what it will achieve. The sacrifice of those one hundred and fifty seven families is one that we can all honour for the fact that the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters lost were willing to serve for the betterment of others. God Bless.
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