As we approach Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the United States, I write this post with immense gratitude to all those who serve and have served our countries. Who will you remember on November 11th?
In Memory of Master Corporal Mark Robert Isfeld
Born on August 14, 1962
Killed removing landmines on June 21, 1994
Peacekeeping in Croatia with 1 COMBAT ENGINEER REGIMENT Canadian Military Engineers
During peacekeeping tours in Kuwait and Croatia, Master Corporal Mark "Izzy" Isfeld, from British Columbia, worked clearing land mines in war-torn countries. While there, he also gave out little handmade dolls crocheted by his mother, Carol, to help calm frightened local children. Tragically, Mark lost his life in a land-mine explosion in Croatia in 1994. Since his death, people across Canada have continued to make and donate "Izzy" dolls for Canadian soldiers to give to children. There is a sculpture in his memory.
I was fortunate to be able to be a small part of making the sculpture a reality and to be present for the dedication ceremony. The statue is of a peacekeeper presenting an Izzy doll to a child.
When Master Corporal Isfeld’s mother took the podium at the ceremony and read the poem she had written in memory of her son, there wasn’t a dry eye among those of us present. I would like to share Mrs. Isfeld’s poem with you here.
I had the privilege of speaking with Mrs. Isfeld after the ceremony. She honored me by presenting me with an Izzy doll. The photograph below is of my Izzy doll sitting in front of a framed copy of Mrs. Isfeld’s poem. Although it’s hard to make out, the picture in the top right hand corner is of the doll lying in the rubble. This would not have been one doll of many that our children may be accustomed to, but likely the only toy this little girl may have had. It clearly resonated with Master Corporal Isfeld, and through his actions, his mother’s and those of countless others, small children in war-torn countries are given a reason to smile.
I have been blessed to personally meet many members of our military, veterans and peacekeepers. I can hardly begin to express my gratitude to them. I wish I could share with you the many more stories that have been told to me. Even more, I wish we could live in a world where peace could prevail and the stories could be ancient history.
They are our grandfathers, fathers, brothers, grandmothers, mothers, sisters, neighbours . . . and heroes, and we can never thank them enough. Their courage, service and sacrifices keep us strong, proud and free.
 From the Veterans Affairs Canada Website
 From the Veterans Affairs Canada Website (modified)