The leaves have changed from beautiful green to yellow, orange and red.  They are falling, the mornings feel crisp, and the rains are sure to come.  Here we are again, in the time period just before Remembrance Day. Each year I face this window in time with trepidation, dread and with honour. I feel the expectations of me, the only “Silver Cross Mother” in our town.  Andrew was born on Nov. 3rd, he would have just turned 36 yrs old.

On Aug 11, 2006, Cpl Andrew (Boomer) Eykelenboom was killed by a suicide bomber.  He came back to his base, from a routine patrol, with the infantry on Aug 9th.  His tour in Afghanistan was winding down.  He handed in his medical kit on Aug 10th and was packing to come home.  As fate would have it Andrew volunteered to go back out on the 11th for one more mission, to cover for a fellow medic.

Andrew was our youngest son.  This is the cruel reality that so many military families have to face – losing loved ones due to war.  We hear of many similar stories, and each one makes another hole in my heart. Grief, the horrors of war, of decisions made that went wrong, of depravation,  the losses. Yet we also hear about the successes, the bravery, the generosity. There is no doubt that the Canadian Forces have been making a difference, both away and at home, since their beginnings.  We can be very proud as a country of our young soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen, our Troops. These young men and women, like Andrew, who want to help make a positive change in the world.

The cost of war is huge, not just financially, but of the human toll.  Obviously the deaths of so many, but also the dysfunction that happens within families when their loved ones are killed, the emotional crippling, the angst over what we could have, or should have done, to change the direction of their lives.   The physical and mental injuries that so many return home with is so tragic. The impact of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on our military, and first responders, is often ignored or underestimated by medical experts and affected family members.  As a human race, we truly are not that civilized. I really believe that most of us are, in some way or other “walking wounded”.

I am so thankful that I have an unshakable faith in our Lord. I believe Andrew is in Heaven,   ”It’s okay Mom, I’m in a better place”, is what I heard him say. The last thing he said to the medic friend who would have had to go out on patrol that fateful August day was,  “Hey buddy, someday I want to hang out with you in Heaven”. These poignant words are etched into Andrew’s headstone.

So it is with respect for those who have passed before and a strong desire to be part of the solution that Boomer’s Legacy, with a mission of Helping Our Soldiers (Troops), Help Others, at Home and Abroad, was formed.   So this Remembrance Day, I remember those who presently serve, and have served, especially Andy, who gave his all and never hesitated to be of service. So on the 11th, I shall stand proud, with fists clenched and head high, tears running down my face.  Gutted once more.

Please attend a Legion Remembrance Day Service in your area.  Be kind, be considerate and be generous with your time, talents and treasures, make a difference, they did!

Maureen Eykelenboom