Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Tomorrow's Other Life

"He said [in a video] he didn't want us to cry. He said we'll see each other tomorrow."
"He always wanted to be in the military. Since he was a  young boy."
"When he decided to join after secondary school, we didn't like it at all -- he's my only son. But later on we thought, 'If I don't let my son join the military, and others and others don't let their sons join, then who is going to protect this country?"
"We came from a city of 800,000 people to a town of 15,000. We didn't know the market here. We didn't know if the people would like our food. But Marc gave his life, and we said we're going to do it for him. There was no question in my mind that we would do this, and we've had no regrets at all."
Hani Diab, proprietor, Madameek restaurant, Petawawa, Ontario
Marc Diab died in Afghanistan in 2009. His family has fulfilled his wish to open a restaurant in Petawawa.
Marc Diab died in Afghanistan in 2009. His family has fulfilled his wish to open a restaurant in Petawawa.
A 22-year-old member of the Canadian military, among the 158 that died in Afghanistan during Canada's time in Kandahar Province in the dozen years Canada was a member of the NATO-led coalition battling the Afghanistan Taliban and attempting to help the country bring order, security and modernity to its embattled nation, died an untimely death. On March 8, 2009 the military vehicle that  Marc Diab was travelling in along with other soldiers hit an IED, a roadside bomb, and he died.

Jihan Falah, Marc Diab's mother, her husband Hani Diab and their family of three young children emigrated to Canada from their home in Lebanon, in 2000, when Marc, the youngest of the family was 13. The day before he died he had written: "The military definitely changed my life for the better". Soon after his death while serving with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, a friend of Marc's gave his parents a video he had made of his wishes in the event of his death.

While he loved being a soldier, serving in the military, he also became attached to the military environment where he received his training. His parents were in the restaurant business in Mississauga, and Marc began to think about how he would like himself to open a similar Lebanese-food restaurant in Petawawa, to treat those with whom he worked to authentic Lebanese dishes.

On his death, his grieving parents, looking for some way to assuage their grief, focused on their son's wishes.
Maya Diab-Ghanem prepares shawarmas at Petawawa's Madameek restaurant, which she and her family opened in 2010, a year after her brother, Trooper Marc Diab, was killed in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.
Maya Diab-Ghanem prepares shawarmas at Petawawa’s Madameek restaurant, which she and her family opened in 2010, a year after her brother, Trooper Marc Diab, was killed in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.    Bruce Deachman / Ottawa Citizen
They sold their Toronto properties and moved to Petawawa. And there they opened their Madameek restaurant. Inside the restaurant a framed commemoration of the 158 Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan is hung, among them the likeness of Marc Diab, listed as "number 112". The Madameek restaurant has become a favourite place to eat in Petawawa. And the extended, close family has all moved there.

"It's close to where Marc was, and it also gives us closure. It makes us feel that we are still close to him, that he's with us", explained his sister Maya. "Marc was very family-oriented. In one email I got from him, he told me that he always loves to see our family close, and live close together. So after he passed away and my family came here to open the restaurant, my husband and I decided to follow."

Mr. Diab, Marc's father, was asked by the Department of National Defence if he would consider hiring the four soldiers who had been with his son when the IED explosion took place. This would  be related to the Canadian Armed Forces Transition Program meant to help in preparing members of the military return to civilian life.

"They were friends of Marc's and the military wanted to put them in a warm, family setting. They thought that putting them with us would make a difference, and it did. They were lost when they started here, and now each of them has a business; one of them owns a golf club, another one runs a paintball field, and a third is a fitness instructor.

"We feel that Petawawa is our home now, and we would do anything for the military. We never felt that Marc left us, and when his colleagues come in here in uniform, we see Marc in them, all the time. He gave his life for Canada, for every kid and every man and woman in Canada. We think that God had his wisdom when he picked Marc up."

PETAWAWA -When he retired from the military, Trooper Marc Diab planned to open a Lebanese restaurant in the community he adopted as his second home.

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