April 14, 2003



I want to add a little bit more about Cpl. Bernard Gooden, USMC, formerly Pte. Bernard Gooden of my own 32 Canadian Brigade Group, who was killed recently in Iraq. I never had the privilege of knowing Pte. Gooden, although I know many of his colleagues. Three years ago, he served as a teenager with the army reserve, receiving recruit and basic army engineer training as part of Toronto's excellent 2 Field Engineer Regiment. His family connections drew him south, and thence to the Marines, and thence to an M1 loader's position, where he died.

Unlike Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, also formerly of 32 Brigade, who was killed in Afghanistan last year, I had no involvement this time with the paying of respects, either. The Marines, as always, take care of their own. I do happen to personally know the Marine officer who led the U.S. delegation to Toronto last week to pay the Corps' respects to the family, and, as I would have expected of him, he performed his role ably and well.

Having two former members of the formation killed in action in a year, both in their own ways part of the fallout of Sept. 11, is perhaps not a remarkable price to pay, however tragic. We could even still be said to have gotten off lightly. But I do think it's notable that both of those individuals were also members of Toronto's extensive African-Canadian community. On one level, that says a lot, I think, about a national military that was once criticized as possibly a bit too pur laine. By fluky coincidence, our honour roll says otherwise now.

The other point that might be made, perhaps, is that, for all the paroxysms over race, the underclass, young black men, profiling and crime, we should never forget that there are a large number of young people in the Toronto community who are finding ways to do great things with their lives and to better ours, as well, both with guns and without. When the final reckoning is made on who paid what price to make us a freer, safer nation in the early years of the millennium, Toronto's black community has already anted up and kicked in, beyond their fair share, and probably deserve some recognition of that fact from the rest of us in due course.

Posted by BruceR at 02:03 PM



Sorry for the absence... I was helping with some more Toronto-area reservist training over the weekend.

Posted by BruceR at 10:59 AM