From one battlefield to another

Posted on May 13, 2012 in Child & Family Policy Context

Source: — Authors: – opinion/editorialopinion
Published On Sat May 12 2012.   Trevor Greene

Every generation updates and renews the values that make us who we are. I once found it hard to truly understand what those in my grandfather’s generation meant when they spoke of making the ultimate sacrifice in wartime to allow their loved ones back home to live in a democracy.

Until, that is, I myself almost lost it all in a remote village in Afghanistan on behalf of the values that make us Canadian, values that I now see as under threat not by a foreign force, but by a domestic one.

Compared with others who did make the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan, like my friend Bill Turner, who took my place in the field, my story has been well publicized.

On March 4, 2006, I was part of the 1st Battalion PPCLI battle group in the tiny village of Shinkay, when during a meeting with local elders to discuss their needs for water, housing and education, an insurgent sneaked up behind our group and buried a crude axe in my skull.

Unconscious, I was taken to the base hospital in Kandahar, where I was stabilized for the flight to a U.S.-run hospital in Germany. Fast forward through 10 hospitals and today I am back living in Canada with the goal of proving wrong those doctors who said that I’d never walk again.

Every morning, I also wake up and count my blessings, as we all should, that I get to spend another day with loved ones. My wife Debbie has stood beside me like a rock, and my young daughter keeps giving me that jolt of energy that only kids can give their parents, and I need it more than most. We now have a son on the way.

Frequently, however, the newspapers bring clouds to my day. The Canada I went overseas to fight for was a tolerant and open society, always striving to do the right thing, and to bring to the world a sense that tomorrow can be better than today.

Today, though, the government in Ottawa seems to want to throw all that out the window. Stephen Harper’s vision of Canada seems to begin, and end, in the tarsands, and everything else be damned. Tolerance is redefined as applying only to anyone who agrees with that vision. Everyone else is “radical,” an “extremist,” or even included in his government’s new program battling terrorism.

This is an insult to those of us who have fought, and sacrificed for our country, against real radicals, real extremists and real terrorists.

When I read about ministers of the Crown attacking and smearing heroes like David Suzuki, who are trying to put us on a more sustainable pathway, I wonder what’s happened to Canada. I fear for the kind of world my daughter and son stand to inherit should we cave in to this oil-driven agenda. Not a good one, I am certain.

If my own story gives inspiration to others, and I hope it does, then it’s about exactly that — hope. I was given little chance of surviving, let alone thriving, and I’ve already half proven that wrong.

With determination, we can overcome all manner of adversity, and reclaim who we are both as individuals and as a people. We face this challenge now with Ottawa, with a government that is taking our country in the wrong direction, undermining the values that make us who we are. I am loath to have to admit to my children that the irreversible degradation of their planet continued on my watch.

Capt. (ret’d) Trevor Greene now lives in Nanaimo, BC with his wife Debbie and daughter Grace. They are expecting a son in June. The Greenes run a foundation to educate Afghan girls as teachers.

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