Trooper Marc Diab is gone, but not forgotten

By 
  • December 30, 2009
{mosimage} MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - A framed photo of fallen soldier Marc Diab sits in every room of the Diab family’s new home.

Almost a year after the 22-year-old trooper was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, the family is still mourning his loss but says they’re coping thanks to community support and by keeping his memory alive through the charitable foundation they started the day after his funeral.

On March 8, Diab was the 112th Canadian soldier in Afghanistan killed since Canadian troops joined the war on terror in 2002 (see Toronto parish lays its hero to rest ).

So far, the Marc Diab Children’s Foundation has provided Christmas gifts for 80 children and helped 100 students attend Our Lady of Lebanon’s summer camp, which Diab had been running for a few years. The foundation’s goal is to help children in need, said Diab’s father, Hani.

Although the first Christmas without Diab has been difficult, the family has received support from Our Lady of Lebanon parish, some politicians and even people who didn’t know him, said Hani, 49. The day after his son’s funeral, the family started the foundation and received almost $7,000, said his mother, Jihan, 46.

Some Catholic schools have also shown support. On Remembrance Day, Iona Catholic High School students donated $1,000 to the foundation and Fr. Michael Goetz High School, which Diab attended for a year, donated $200. During the summer, three Catholic high schools donated the use of their parking lots for a charity car wash which raised money for the camp.

Helping children through the foundation is important, Hani said, “because Marc wanted to do something to change the lives of children.”

The family says the support from Canadians across the country has also helped them cope with their loss. About 200 people sent letters expressing support for the family and saying how they were touched by his life.

“Dear family of Trooper Marc Diab, we are honoured to be Canadian because of people like him,” recited his sister, Jessica, 28, from one letter.

Others have also written about how her brother’s sacrifice inspired them, she said.

“It makes us feel like people who don’t even know and never met us support us and are with us.”

The family also appreciates the compassion of strangers who have left flowers and cards at the cemetery, Hani said.

“I know that his life didn’t just go in vain,” he said. “We do appreciate every effort made to make our loss easier.”

At Diab’s parish, a plaque in his memory hangs on the wall.

On the Sunday before Christmas, the Diab family attended Mass at Our Lady of Lebanon and visiting Marc’s grave site at Assumption Catholic Cemetery.

“Even though it’s going to reach a year now, it’s just not true. It (feels like) it didn’t happen, that he’s not gone,” Jihan said through tears.

But she adds they are finding strength in her son’s motto: “Adapt and overcome.”

Jihan recalls the last Christmas spent with Diab, the year before he was deployed to Afghanistan. They agreed to not buy presents. But Diab had a surprise, filling the tree with gifts.

“That’s the kind of person he is and he still is,” Jihan said, “because he’s never gone.”

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