Project fitting of Jamie’s legacy
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