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Sunday November 11, 2012 was an unusually warm day, here in Kingston, Ontario. The day hovered around 16 to 20 degrees Celsius/ 60.8 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is absolutely rare for a Southeastern Ontario November day. It was the perfect backdrop to initiate the Memory Walk. Family, friends, and colleagues all contributed to creating a name, that would commemorate Matt’s contribution of a walk, for our fallen.
The walk initially named the Mothers Walk/Mothers Watch took its first steps this Remembrance Day, at RMC and Fort Henry. Friends joined our family, and after a small huddle, renamed the project, Memory Walk. Two of us did walk for Matt, later that night, around Fort Henry. As quiet and dark as the night was, we certainly did not feel alone. The fort was dark, except for a minimum of solar lights along the old path, and a self-powered light generator, situated toward the bottom of the hill. As one of the most haunted places in Canada, we saluted all who had fallen in Canada. We saluted all who sacrificed their lives, to protect us. We saluted all parents, who lost a beloved, in the play of war and conflict. We lit the candles at 11:11pm for their remembrance. Perhaps too, the informality and the quietness of the night was a perfect background setting for the birthing of the night Watch. There was conversation and laughter, as we recalled some of our childhood memories at the fort, and this wonderous hill.
The concept around this Walk also involved the 8 factor, symbolizing the continuum of the mother’s womb, and its conduit to life here – from spirit to material, to spirit, etc. RMC also symbolizes the iconic womb of the military, as young men and women enter into the material life of a soldier and officer. Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu is also shares this iconic emblem with our soldiers.
The Watch, walked in the night’s eleventh hour, designated the night’s protection – protection that many of us give our child/ren, the newest and more vulnerable members of society. It also symbolized a form of protection that soldiers give our society, in times of instability, conflict, and war. The continuum of the night watch represented the nurture and protection invested by family and community, in the upbringing of children into our culture, as they become one with Canada.
During the brainstorming of this project, the “non-Moms” expressed a heart-felt emotional exclusivity from some of the icons. It was a mute factor not intended! The brainstorming continued…
Of course the Memory Walk also produced some surprises of its own! You might say that Matt may have been wheeling some of his own influence into the equation that day.
We assembled at the Arch to RMC at the top of the 11th hour. Many soldiers and citizens were drawn to the services this year, and the beautiful weather that we were enjoying. We bought Red Mums, as tokens to the fallen. They were placed along the shoreline and grounds. Some of the deciduous trees had not dropped their leaves – again unusual. The colour of land’s green and autumn stood alongside the colours of the water that day. The shadows of these trees, at RMC’s entrance, showed the bounty of leaves that still remained on the branches.
This shaft of light was at a straight up and down angle, and did not seem to be connected to the skyline, over the top of the trees. We lovingly wondered if maybe Matt had come out to join us after all; we wondered if this shaft of light had come to join others, paying their respect; we wondered if this shaft of light was connected to the mother and child that had distanced themselves from the others; we wondered if this shaft of light was possibly a spirit soldier, from our past, who simply welcomed the homage that all of us were paying to all of them. It was a beautiful aspect of the unexpected that came to join us that day!
Flowers were laid for Joe Grozelle. Flowers were laid for Mathieu LeClair. Flowers were laid for our less known and unknown.
When the unresolved occurs in our society, we should be standing together to find the answers. We should not have to look over our shoulders to see what litigation and lawyers will make of this. We need to make it right first, and then debate, as diplomats, what our course is, as a nation. We have lost two such upcoming and potentially outstanding officers. These young gentlemen would have exemplified what we think of ourselves as Canadians. We need to fix the wrong, and make it right for every soldier, whose simple goal is to protect the families of our nation. We need to get back to the higher goals of truth, valour, and duty.
Why do we allow a down-spiralling-effect of accepted collateral damage, and the shoving of less desirable and darker aspects of soldiers, of soldiering, and their careers, underneath a carpet? Why do we allow unseemly conversations and decisions to be made by the inner circle of only a few? As Canadians, we too are responsible for the decisions that we stand and abide by. We have to have more say. We have to do more to right the wrongs. It is what is expected of us as world citizens.
As we got back on to the route we had designated for the walk, we found a few coincidences, and perhaps this is where Matt was wheeling a little more influence.
He appeared to take a smoke break with his friends and godmother, Mom 2. It only takes a second to see the shot (as we sometimes say in the field of photography). This was the case during their smoking break. I asked Daph to replicate her hand posture. This is the image it captured. Of course, she wasn’t able to see it from her angle. It began a domino effect of more coincidences, throughout the walkabout.
As they finished, 10 Canadian Geese flew right over us. Someone said, “10 pallbearers”… Aek, J-F, Jesse, Jordon, Josh,”JR”Justin, Kevin, Shane, Thomas, and Tyler. The honour guard, minus one missing soldier, was already walking with us, that day.
The boys took the lead, and as we moved away from the water, we headed out to General Crerar Crescent. The boys were drawn to the tank and the tepee, as were many families that day. As we began to assemble for a shot inside the tepee, one of the soldiers called out to his son, a young boy of 4-6, to come away, to give us a chance to take a photo. The name he called out to the little boy was Liam. This is Matt’s middle name. We asked if he minded if Liam stayed in the picture. We also explained to him what the significance was of this name. It was a warm conversation among strangers.
We hadn’t planned on a photo by or in the tepee. This was the random walking pattern of Matt’s close friends, and where they were drawn to walk. Moments later Darcy came back to us to say he had found Matt’s initials. They were within 100 ft. from the tepee. These were the type of surprises and coincidences that even the boys were beginning to add up. They felt and we felt that Matt was with us, as we discovered references that pertained to his life and events. As we headed out to the main gates, and the designated route again, we found Billy Bishop Road. This was the name given to Matt’s very 1st Platoon in boot camp at Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. This was his entry point into our military. The boys in that platoon were unusually tall. We threw his tartan over the signpost and took the photo. This was a salute to Matt and all who were honoured to be a part of that platoon, and namesake.
We have had coincidences, in the family, like this, since Matt died last November. I think the boys felt they were included now in the fun and rapport that the spirit world engages with us, if we are only willing to stop, look, listen, and even enjoy the humour that is a part of life’s cycles – in this world and the next.