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 .