On March 18th, fellow volunteer Augustina and I had the privilege to attend a screening of the documentary, “If I Should Fall”, in the Wing Theater. The film explores the universality of loss through interviews of the family of Trooper Marc Diab, who was killed in Afghanistan on March 8, 2009, and members of his unit, the Royal Canadian Dragoons.
The film was emotionally powerful and I was instantly transported back to 2008 when my husband, a Military Police Officer, was serving in a Police Sub-Station in a village in Afghanistan.
While he was there I coped by trying not to watch any news stories about the conflict, keeping busy, and I deliberately lived in denial, so much so that when I heard several loud bangs while on a phone call, I believed him when he said that the Afghani’s were chopping wood in an unsafe manner and he had to go. I only found out the truth a couple of years later when a member of his platoon accidentally told me the real story about the camp having mortar rounds fired upon them by the Taliban. It sounds incredible that I would believe such a silly story now, but at the time it was the only way I could get through those nine months and put on a brave face for our children.
Even after my husband came home, I couldn’t bear to hear any stories about his time there. Seeing the footage shot by Trooper Diab put me in touch with what it must have been like for my husband. I saw how the sea containers had been converted to sleeping quarters, the raised rows and irrigation ditches that were such a hazard in the fields they walked while on the dangerous foot patrols, the explosions caused by IED’s, and sadly, the ramp ceremonies in Khandahar.
The film left me with a deep sense of connection with Marc’s family, knowing that they faced my worst nightmare. Until today, I had buried the fear that I felt during those months but watching the interviews with Marc’s family, that fear came back. It was devastating because it was far too easy to put myself in Marc’s mother’s shoes. It could have very easily been our family and I can only be grateful that we were lucky. It was comforting though to see that Marc’s fellow Dragoons felt his loss as a brother. He will forever be a part of them and it helped me understand the much talked about bond that soldiers in combat forge and honor for a lifetime. I’m grateful that my husband will forever have that bond with the members of his platoon.
Our job in the museum is to put these conflicts into a narrative, to provide context for our visitors. We may talk about the facts behind the start of WWI or WWII, but we also try to show that there were real people involved, with families that felt their loss when they didn’t return. We try to show how the nation dealt with the causes of the conflicts and the sacrifices made by our soldiers in order to inform the public so that our country can have a better picture in order to decide how we deal with these issues in the future. If we don’t understand how these wars came to be and why we chose to solve them in this way, knowing that the cost could be the lives of our soldiers, we have no way to help prevent them from happening again.
Corrine Bainard, CAFM volunteer
We were fortunate to have Paul Culliton, one of the directors, visit the museum later that day. We had a great conversation while touring the museum and he donated a DVD of the film. Any one interested in viewing this documentary will be able to view it in our video lounge at the museum. Copies of the documentary are also available for purchase through the documentary website and on loan at the MFRC.