Monday, November 11, 2013


Photo credit:
Elizabeth K Watnem Photography
Last week, after posting my Military Monday post on education, I was grappling with what to post here for Remembrance Day--what angle I would take, what topic I could share, what personal story or anecdote I could expand upon. I was a little stumped.

Remembrance Day has always been a mandatory attendance event in our family. Even when I was little my world stopped on November 11 while we walked to a cold cenotaph and stood in rain, wind and sometimes snow. As a proud Air Force officer, I have marched with my coworkers. As a military spouse I have stood by my husband. And as a mother I have watched my children march as Brownies, Scouts and Army Cadets. Remembrance Day never fails to move me. Even today, as you read this, I am standing beside my husband in his uniform, while my youngest daughter lays a wreath on behalf of her school...I'm likely trying to keep it together as I hear the Last Post.

But last week, as I came home, logged on to Facebook, and checked my messages, I was stumped as to how to do justice to such an important day.

There, in the 'Other' tab of my Facebook, was a message from a stranger. I was flattered and pleased that someone I didn't know would take the time to write me a personal message. It's still a novelty for me to get mail, in any form, from a complete stranger.

I clicked on the message. And then I read it.

I wish I could fully describe what this message did to me. I was...humbled. Awed. Proud. Sad. Overwhelmed. I wrote the author, Amanda, back and asked her if I could share it with my readers word for word. She wrote back and said yes.

So I am honoured to share it with you now. Please take the time to read it all.

* * *

Hi Brenda

My name is Amanda Anderson - I saw your post about education on the Canadian Military Spouses FB page. I noticed a lot of the spouses mentioned University of Manitoba as a good school for military spouses.
Cpl Jordan Anderson
DND photo
I wanted to let you know that U of M is the first university since the Korean War to award a degree posthumously to a fallen soldier - Cpl Jordan Anderson 3PPCLI (KIA Afghanistan 04 July 2007).
I think its extremely important that U of M get recognized for this distinction - especially within our military community. It took a huge amount of work by Jordan's friends, the Political Science department and the university to make this actually happen.
In addition to Jordan receiving his degree posthumously, a bursary was established - Cpl Jordan Anderson On the Ramp award for serving or retired member of the Canadian Forces, or a cadet (with preference given to those studying political science). Although the award isn't open to spouses I want the military community to know the extent to which U of M supports our military.
Jordan was taking political science through distance ed at U of M. As a serving member it was a challenge and more than one time I had to call the distance ed office myself and tell them he got bugged out and that term paper wasn't making it in, and perhaps could they speak to the prof and get him an extension?The staff at the distance ed office were unbelievably supportive throughout his years of study.

Cpl Jordan Anderson in theatre
DND photo

The day before he died he contacted the head of the department and was arranging to take classes upon his return from Afghanistan. I can't describe in a message how it felt to receive my husband's degree after his death. His dedication was incredible and I desperately wished it was him receiving it and me sitting in the audience. The news articles detail more of my reaction and the spontaneous reaction of the audience that day.
Here are some news links with more information:
When the news articles were published, the University was still working out logistical and privacy aspects of the bursary (therefore some of the newspaper article details are incorrect). Here is a link to a summary of the FINAL bursary requirements.
If anyone was interested in donating to Cpl Jordan Anderson 'On the Ramp' Bursary I've summarized the details on his In Loving Memory Facebook page here - along with a link to the donation form.
(Anderson family archives)
I know this isn't the direction of your article, however you are speaking to the military community about education. Its hard to part with tuition money so at least at U of M you know its going to an institution who cares / gives a damn about our military and their sacrifice.
I hope you choose to share (in some format) Jordan's story and the amazing support he received from the U of M. Even more timely with Remembrance Day being next week.
Amanda Anderson
Widow of Cpl Jordan Anderson 3PPCLI
* * *
Needless to say, I was floored. 

I've since contacted George MacLean, PhD, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Manitoba, who was the department head at the time Jordan was taking his courses. Dr. MacLean had this to say:
 "Jordan's story will likely stick with me for the rest of my life.  It was one of the best things I think we've done as a university...Military personnel (some American, too) over at the Air Force base officer school in Winnipeg raised funds to support the bursary, and it was fully funded and then given final approval in 2010.  We've awarded it at least twice since then."
Coming home.
Photo credit: DND
Such an amazing, heart wrenching inspirational story.
I am so honoured and privileged to be able to share it with you on today of all days.
So today, whether you are at work, school, home or at the local cenotaph, take a moment to remember Cpl Jordan Anderson and all of the people who were touched by his story. Touched enough to pull together to help others like him enrich their lives.
Remember the men with who had wives and families and lives back home waiting for them. Remember that they were working on degrees, making plans, preparing for the future.
Remember how much they wanted to come home.
Remember that they didn't.

Dedicated to the men who died on July 4, 2007
Killed in Action
Captain Matthew Johnathan Dawe (3PPCLI)

Captain Jefferson Clifford Francis (1 Royal Canadian Horse Artillery)

Corporal Jordan James Anderson (3PPCLI)

Corporal Cole D. Bartsch (3PPCLI)

Master Corporal Colin Stuart Francis Bason (The Royal Westminster Regiment)

Private Lane William Thomas Watkins (3PPCLI)
Afghan interpreter


  1. Brenda, we met at your book signing in Chapters, and talked at length about writing. I've been following your blog since then. This was a beautiful post. Thank you so much for bringing attention o this.

  2. Thank you Crystal! It was one of those moments where I had to take a breath and think, 'Wow, this is all bigger than me." I was honored that Amanda chose to connect with me and share her story through my blog. Brenda

  3. Brenda, wow an amazing letter and post. I had tears in my eyes reading this.

    1. Thanks Yelena! :) I hope that someone, somewhere sees it and donates some funds to the bursary, or maybe applies and continues their education as a result.


Thank you for your comment. It will be posted after moderation.