Daughter of Canada Rest In Peace
"The longer we are in theatre and the more that we interact with Afghan people,the more I feel that we are really serving a purpose here" Capt.Nichola Goddard.
I first wrote about Capt.Nichola Goddard here. She was a luminous individual, and the first Canadian female soldier to die in combat against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Christine Blanchford, of the Toronto Globe and Mail, was in Calgary attending Capt Goddards funeral services and has written a wonderful piece which serves as a fitting tribute to Capt Goddard. Considering that this is the eve of Memorial Day in the U.S. the timing serves to remind me that it is not only American troops who have made the ultimate sacrifice that we need to keep in our hearts, but we also need to remember those fallen angels who served with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
As with many of her fellow soldiers, Capt. Goddard was as steadfast and settled as someone twice her age on the big life questions -- sure of herself in family, marriage, church, duty and her own beliefs -- she remained playful, spontaneous and remarkably open to the people and experiences that Afghanistan offered her.
She wrote lengthy, near-poetic letters home, to her family, of course, and friends, and to the St. Barnabas congregation, who had them compiled in a book yesterday inside the front doors.
"The longer that we are in theatre and the more that we interact with the Afghan people, the more I feel that we are really serving a purpose here," she wrote on March 4. "I think these people, through the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, are trying to achieve something that we in Canada have long since taken for granted . . . They lay down their lives daily to try to seize something that is so idealistic it is almost impossible to define. . ."
That something was what Capt. Goddard called "the awesome power of a democratic government," and while she agreed that "it is easy to poke holes in that statement, and say that the system is corrupt or that violence and poverty make people easy targets for our own agendas . . . we have to start somewhere."
Dr.Goddard, Nichola's father, is an associate dean in the faculty of Education at Univerity of Calgary.
(...) father and daughter had heated discussions. Just last Christmas, he said, they discussed the role of the military in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Darfur. Capt. Goddard subscribed to the view that military force is required to permit the reconstruction of civil society; Dr. Goddard argued that education is the key to development for the poor and oppressed.That truth is one I wish the entire American and Canadian "left" would finally embrace. Capt.Goddard articulated that which those in the Military and on the 'right" understand, but which those on the left fail to grasp - and what Lt.Col Mark A.Smith succinctly stated in his Memorial Day dispatch- " that one has to stand ready to do violence on behalf of the greater good."
"Quick as a flash," he said, "she punctured my professorial balloon. 'You can't do that when the bad guys run things, Dad,' she said, 'they just shoot you. You have to have peace and good government in order for the rest to happen. I do what I do so you can do what you do.'
Capt Goddard was killed by Taliban hiding in or near a school.
In Capt. Goddard's name, the family has established an endowed scholarship at the University of Calgary open to applicants from three groups -- citizens of Papua New Guinea, where Capt. Goddard came into the world as a scrawny, less-than-four-pound baby; Indian, Inuit or Métis peoples of Canada, in whose company she spent her formative years, and citizens of Afghanistan, the place of her death
Among the last words the gentle, intellectual Dr. Goddard offered were for his child's Canadian and Afghan comrades overseas, "who responded to her death with great vigour and imposed an almost biblical wrath on those who were responsible for it. We thank you for that."
Then he quoted, rather fiercely, the words on the cap badge of the Artillery beret: Quo fas et gloria ducunt, Latin for "Whither right and glory lead."
Capt. Goddard left that church as she entered it, her casket all wrapped up tight in the Canadian flag, swaddled as only a daughter of Canada should be.