Pam Pardy-Ghent: Raising A Soldier

Newfoundlanders may account for only 1.8 per cent of this country’s population, but in the Canadian Reserves, those who hail from Newfoundland and Labrador make up 8.8 per cent of the total numbers.

Of the over 2,300 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians currently serving with the Reserves, 900 of them remain with feet firmly planted on this province’s rocky soil. 

My Child in Uniform

But what makes a soldier? As the mother of one, I wish I knew. I certainly didn’t have a plan ahead of time to groom my boy to be one, that’s for certain. It can’t be genetic. Besides my son’s paternal grandfather, the late Arthur Ghent, who served in the Navy for a brief time – well before mine or my son’s time – we have no family members who ever wore the uniform. And pop’s Navy adventures were never a topic of conversation that I recall. 

If truth be told, my kid would be the last person on the planet I would ever think would wear a uniform. His upbringing, thanks (with Daddy away) to my mostly solo parenting, didn’t scream; you should be in a job where using an iron is a must. I was given an ironing board as a shower gift in 1990 and, before I tossed it and its cute little ducky cover in 2003, it had only been used when my mother came to visit. 

Our home was the very opposite of structured. Rules were only made to be broken, and the more creatively the dodging was done, the better! When my son started drinking with his friends in high school, instead of laying down the law, I marveled at how my usually loud, door slamming, cupboard banging, frantic fridge foraging lad instantly became a night ninja and snuck into the house as silently and nimbly as Fred Flintstone  preparing to expertly toss a bowling ball.  He was never caught. But trust me, I knew. Hear nothing, know all!

So, why did he enlist? Because he felt it was the right thing to do, and, almost from the moment he laced up his first pair of shiny boots and fastened those gleaming buttons on his jacket, he knew – and we knew – he had found his calling. The first time I saw him in uniform, my breath caught in my throat. My boy! 

That young Newfoundlanders like those on this week’s cover – including my own lad – chose to proudly serve our country should surprise no one. 

Defending Our Country

As the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and MP for St. John’s South-Mount Pearl, wrote when told of our cover image for November 11th; “Newfoundlanders have always been ready to stand up in defence of our nation, so I am not surprised to see the three reservists ready to take up the reins now. It is inspiring to see our youth ready to defend our country and our values. Their involvement with the Canadian Armed Forces bodes well for our future.”

It certainly does. That young people today still wish to stand up for Canada and for freedom, with all the information they have about the world and the evil and dangers that exist in it, is commendable. That they choose to do it from right here at home? Remarkable.  

To the  900 Reservists, the 250 Regular Force Military members, and the 1,050 Canadian Rangers who serve our country from right here on home soil, thank you for everything you do. To the over 5,000 of NL’s own who are scattered around this country and the world, we couldn’t be more proud of you if we owned ya ourselves. Now one of my own is one of you. As the mother of a soldier, while I don’t know what I did to raise one, I’m awfully proud that I did.

Pam Pardy Ghent, The Herald’s Managing Editor, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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