March 05, 2009

Passing notes

Yesterday brought bad news of yet more Canadian casualties in Afghanistan. Warrant Officer Dennis Raymond Brown from the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, Corporal Dany Oliver Fortin from the 425 Tactical Fighter Squadron and Corporal Kenneth Chad O’Quinn from the 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signals Squadron were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb, one of the devices that they had just finished clearing.

Their deaths bring the total number of Canadians killed in Afghanistan to 111, and each time a soldier makes the supreme sacrifice the media coverage in Canada is widespread. And so too is the sound of the pipes.

Each “ramp ceremony” – the military procedure that begins the repatriation of the fallen – has a solo piper from the Canadian Forces, and always a very good one at that. The Canadian Forces clearly knows that only excellent piping will do when paying allegiance to excellent service. Fraser Clark, a Captain with the Canadian Forces’ Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team (KPRT), Task Force 1-08, wrote about the experience passionately last August in a pipes|drums feature story that I hope everyone reads again.

If there were ever a positive to these sacrifices, it’s the small fact that millions of Canadians are exposed to the sound of the instrument as it should be.


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