Pro­ject fit­ting of Jamie’s legacy

The Compass - - OPINION -

It’s hard to be­lieve that nearly a decade has passed since the first Cana­dian sol­dier from this prov­ince was killed while on duty in Afghanistan.

By most mea­sures, that’s a long time, and time, it’s been said, heals all wounds.

But for those at­tend­ing the of­fi­cial ded­i­ca­tion of a new com­mu­nity park in North River on June 8, it was very clear that the loss of their son, brother and un­cle is still very raw in the hearts of the Mur­phy fam­ily from Con­cep­tion Har­bour.

It was a scene that many of the sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple on hand that day will not soon for­get: two smart-look­ing soldiers from the Royal Cana­dian Reg­i­ment — hav­ing driven from a Cana­dian Forces base in New Brunswick for the oc­ca­sion — re­move the tar­pau­lin cov­er­ing a mas­sive sign iden­ti­fy­ing the site as the Cor­po­ral Jamie Bren­dan Mur­phy Com­mu­nity Park. A cutout im­age of Mur­phy, wear­ing bat­tle fa­tigues, wrap-around sun­glasses and a ra­dio head­set, rises above the park, tow­er­ing like a sen­tinel over an area that will serve as a play­ground for chil­dren and a place of re­mem­brance for those who have lost loved ones.

It was hard not to be over­come with emo­tion as Sgt. James But­ler, who served mul­ti­ple tours in Afghanistan and briefly served with Cpl. Mur­phy in that war-torn coun­try, and Lt.-Gov. Frank F. Fa­gan, a man who also un­der­stands the pain of los­ing a son, con­soled Alice Mur­phy, Jamie’s soft-spo­ken and crest­fallen mother.

It was yet an­other re­minder of how a war can touch the lives of those who fall in bat­tle, and not just im­me­di­ate fam­ily mem­bers. Peo­ple of all ages were able to wit­ness a scene that was both pow­er­ful and rev­er­ent, yet gutwrench­ing and painfully sad, and that was most fit­ting. Af­ter all, re­mem­brance, hon­our and sac­ri­fice is not just a do­main for adults.

Re­gard­less of our in­di­vid­ual views on the con­flict, it should be known to all that many Cana­di­ans have made in­cred­i­ble sac­ri­fices for this coun­try’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the war in Afghanistan, and Alice Mur­phy is among those who paid dearly — with her son.

Cpl. Jamie Mur­phy was one of 158 Cana­di­ans who died while serv­ing be­tween April 2002 and Oc­to­ber 2011. Mur­phy was killed Jan. 27, 2004 when a man with ex­plo­sives strapped to his body jumped onto the jeep in which Mur­phy and sev­eral other Cana­dian soldiers were trav­el­ling. They were about a kilo­me­tre from the Cana­dian base in Kabul, and Jamie was just 10 days away from com­plet­ing his six-month tour of duty. He was 26.

He was the first New­found­lan­der lost in the con­flict, but he wasn’t the last. The oth­ers were Cpl. Brian Pinksen, Capt. Frank Paul, Cpl. Ken­neth O’Quinn, Pte. Justin Peter Jones, Cpl. Stephan Fred­er­ick Bouzane, Sgt. Don­ald Lu­cas, Pte. Kevin Vin­cent Kennedy, Sgt. Craig Paul Gil­lam, War­rant Of­fi­cer Richard Fran­cis Nolan and Sgt. Vaughan In­gram.

Canada’s mil­i­tary role in Afghanistan has now faded from the national spot­light, but it’s im­por­tant that we never for­get what it cost this na­tion. The Cor­po­ral Jamie Bren­dan Mur­phy Com­mu­nity Park will do its part to en­sure that never hap­pens.

RIP Cpl. Jamie Mur­phy.

— Terry Roberts

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