November 11, 2010

Let us remember them, 11.11.10

I do feel strongly about Remembrance Day, I think it is important to take a moment to remember and respect the ultimate price that so many have paid fighting for our freedoms.

But this year, my heart makes a salute of respect to Karen Woo, not a soldier but a young doctor who went to Afghanistan to use her medical skills to serve remote communities desperately in need of supplies and expertise.

In August, leaving her fiance in Kabul, she went with a team to a distant mountain district to take medical supplies to communities that may never have had them before. They carried the supplies some of the way, trudging through snow, unarmed. On the way back, they were ambushed by bandits and all but the driver, killed.

I was with my sister, who counted Karen as a dear friend, when she heard the news from Paddy, her distraught fiance. Her grief transformed this sad event to personal tragedy for me. The reality of the pain, more usually diffused through the reportage and unfamiliarity of the names, was for once etched all over the face of someone I love deeply and it was shocking.

I share this not to sadden or sensationalise, but to remind myself of the bitter cost these soldiers and aid personnel bear. And to thank them and pay my respect to their memory.

To Karen, I say, everytime I feel lacking in compassion or courage, I will think of you and be inspired to move out of my comfort zone and make that extra effort, and in this tiny way another small stone will be added to the immovable cairn of  love, bravery and integrity that marked your shortened life. You were truly a hero .


  1. Belinda..deepest sympanthies and a beautiful and moving tribute.Sinead x

  2. Thinking of you and your sister and so sorry for your loss. I do like, tho, that the Brits call it "Remembrance Day". It's way more meaningful than our "Veterans Day".

  3. Well now you've made me cry, and why not, this story deserves a few tears.

    A big thank you to all who have and are fighting for freedom. And a big thank you to those who have blogged about this day.

    Love, Jane

  4. Sinead, thanks for your lovely comment and kind thoughts.

    Webb, thank you so much for the kind words, which i will pass on to my sister. BTW, do you guys have the national two minutes silence tradition like us?

    Jane, bless you and your lovely soul!xx

  5. I´m a day late reading your post. What you wrote touches me and all of us around the world. Something like this must not happen, yet it does. I will respect those involved, with the two minutes.

  6. Dear Belinda,

    I was in London yesterday during the two minutes silence and the capital came to a stand-still.

    Although it comes from a terrible place of suffering and sadness, I like to think that Remembrance Day and in particular, those two minutes of silence and contemplation, bring us all closer.

  7. Metscan, Sarah,the two minute Mark of respect is a powerful moment of gratitude isn't it and I think it brings us together. Xx

  8. How brave of her to go into Afghanistan to help others knowing of the dangers and ultimately paying with her life - this has truly touched me Belinda. A wonderful post. x

  9. Thanks for the appreciation Semi Expat, her legacy will live on in many ways but for her family and fiance the anguish must be appalling. xx

  10. such terrible sadness.
    my son was a flag bearer in the remembrance march this year, I felt so proud of him to be in such an important event, and yet torn because whilst I dearly wanted to photograph him it contradicted the solemnity of the day.
    your poppy is beautiful. xxx

  11. Thank you so much Driftwood, it is a day of contradictions.