Kearsty Ryan’s uncle would be proud
Even at the best of times, it’s very difficult for most people to stand in front of a crowd of strangers and speak from the heart. Most of us are too self-conscious, lack the courage or worry that we won’t have anything to say that’s worth hearing.
But listening to Kearsty Ryan of Georgetown, Conception Bay speaking at a remembrance ceremony in North River last week, we couldn’t help but feel admiration for this young woman. She stepped to the mircrophone, speaking on behalf of a family that suffered a great loss 10 years ago when a young man they all held in very high regard gave his life on a battlefield on the other side of the world. It was a crushing blow to the family of Conception Harbour native Cpl. Jamie Murphy, including his mother, Alice. Indeed, Jan. 26, 2004 was a heart-rending day for the entire province, since Jamie was the first Newfoundland-born soldier to lose his life in the conflict.
But despite the heavy burden on her shoulders, Kearsty, with a steady voice brimming with pride and respect, paid tribute to her uncle, and offered heartfelt thanks to a school community at All Hallows Elementary that has gone to great lengths to preserve his legacy. Those efforts are on display at the newly opened Cpl. Jamie Murphy Memorial Play Park, located directly behind the school, where an billboard-sized photo of Cpl. Murphy keeps a watchful eye over this place of play, learning and socialization.
It’s evident that the loss of her uncle helped shape the woman that Kearsty has become, and there’s no doubt that Cpl. Murphy would beam with pride if he could see how poised, confident and well-spoken she has become.
It was yet another example of what remembrance has come to mean in this province, and a shining one at that. Thanks to the efforts of school leaders and veterans’ groups such as the Legion, children of all ages have come to know the true meaning of words like sacrifice, honour and freedom. And thanks to people like Kearsty Ryan and her family, we can plainly see that something positive can come from the sacrifices made by our young men and women on the battlefield.