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The Late Lieutenant Justin Garrett Boyes

Honourable senators, I want to pay tribute to Lieutenant Justin Garrett Boyes, a young man killed in Afghanistan on October 28 of this year. He was 26 years old — a life barely lived. He left behind a mom and dad who raised him; a brother and a sister who looked up to him; a young family that depended on him; and a calling from which he never flinched.

Bravery is a much-diminished term these days. Actors are considered brave if they take on a risky role; a writer is brave if he bares his soul in print. We need to find another term to describe these things, for brave is when a young man willingly risks his life in combat when he knows full well he has so much to lose and so little to gain.

I attended Lieutenant Boyes' funeral and the courage he displayed was perfectly reflected in the courage his family showed at his loss. This cannot be minimized. When a man or woman goes to war, their family goes to war. When he or she dies in battle, their family is left to bear the loss. We ask much of them. They pay the price long after the war has ended.

The inconsolable grief of the Boyes family was heart-wrenching, but tempered by the enormous pride in which they held Justin and their continued commitment to the fight.

His wife said:

Justin and I believe in the mission in Afghanistan. One of the things that frustrated him was the lack of support from the Canadian citizens he lived to protect. . . .

He said recently, "We're not losing this war, but if we do, it's because we lost it at home first."

She concluded by saying:

Please support our boys. They are making progress.

I believe she was heard, if I can judge by Saskatoon. On Remembrance Day, over 9,000 people showed up at the ceremonies there to remember the fallen and to show support for men and women who are still fighting.

Justin died during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. He had a university degree and could have done anything he wanted, but he chose the military. He went to Afghanistan prepared to do what was asked of him. We all know what that meant for him.

However, none of us feels the effects more than the family that is left behind. To Justin's wife Alanna and his son James, to his parents Brian and Angela, to his brother Curtis and his sister Lindsay, to all the members of his extended family, on behalf of all senators and all Canadians, I want to offer my deepest and most sincere sympathy. Their loss is immeasurable, as is the loss of families who have lost loved ones before them.