Thursday, May 21, 2009

Trevor Greene an inspiration for Canadians

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Editorial Page

During my university years, there were two people who seemed to be friends with everyone. George and Trevor both studied journalism with me at the University of King's College in Halifax in the mid-1980s. George was in my year, while Trevor was two years younger. Both were popular and had a ton of friends.

On March 4, 2003, George committed suicide after a long battle with depression. He was not yet 40, and could not bear to keep on going. Several days after his death, friends gathered in Halifax at the Economy Shoe Shop to celebrate George's life. There was laughter... and tears. People who hadn't seen each other in nearly 20 years since our days at university were brought together to remember an old friend.

Trevor was there, too. I remember that he arrived late. We didn't get a chance to talk, but said "Hi!" to each other in passing as we made our mutual social rounds. Trevor had arrived just before I headed out. "I'll talk to him next time," I thought to myself. There was talk of a reunion and Trevor would likely be there. I'll get caught up then.

Exactly three years later on March 4, 2006, news came to many of the same people in attendance at George's celebration that a certain Captain Trevor Greene had been seriously injured in Afghanistan. While meeting with a group of village elders, Captain Greene had removed his helmet as a sign of respect. Little did he know that a 16-year-old insurgent was hiding nearby, waiting for his opportunity to strike.

The attack with an axe to the back of Captain Greene's head left him near death. His companions openly admit today that they fully expected him to die. After his army buddies shot the youth dead, they noticed bits of Trevor's brain on the ground. It was pretty much the most severe injury anyone had ever seen. His friends were in shock.

When news reached Canada that a "Captain Trevor Greene" had been seriously injured, e-mails started flying around between King's people asking whether or not it was "our" Trevor. Since our get-together for George, many of us did not know that "our" Trevor had indeed started serving with the military in Afghanistan.

Needless to say, everyone was devastated. Not only was it "our" Trevor, but it did not go unnoticed that the incident happened exactly three years to the day of George's suicide. March 4 was not turning out to be a good day for King's friends.

There wasn't much we could do on this end of the ocean but wait and pray. Trevor's family flew to his side at a hospital in Germany. I was able to do my own small part by crafting some urgent written messages for the university alumni association. Being a small, close-knit university, the association was being flooded with inquiries about Trevor, wondering if there was any further news. In the end, there wasn't much we could do but wait for updates. For Trevor's friends, the waiting was excruciating.

Trevor's ongoing journey of recovery from the devastating attack on him in 2006 has been well documented, including an hour-long profile that aired on CTV called Peace Warrior. If you haven't seen it, you need to.

Today, Trevor and his fiancée Debbie Lepore live with their daughter Grace in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Trevor's dream is to one day get out of the wheelchair he has been confined to since being injured and walk down the aisle at his wedding.

Trevor was luckier than George. He did not succumb to the depression that took hold of him after the attack when he had a choice to make. He could either give up and wait to die, or he could try to find the strength to fight back and continue making a positive difference in the world. He had gone to Afghanistan to help people. The rest of his life would be dedicated to that same cause. He would not abandon his post.

Trevor continues to be a strident advocate for the people of Afghanistan and urges us not to give up our fight to save them from the Taliban insurgents who wish to govern the country by fear and oppression -- especially of women and girls. A man with a huge social conscience, he has forgiven his attacker, and believes in the words of Ghandi: "Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Friends from King's -- and many others -- gathered last week to welcome Trevor back to Halifax. It was the first time that most of us had seen him since he was injured. Earlier in the day, he'd received an honourary degree from our university. In the evening, he headlined a motivational event called Victims 2 Victors (www.victims2victors.ca), where he urged the world not to forget the people of Afghanistan. One could easily understand if he'd be against Canada's involvement in Afghanistan, but he'd been there and seen their plight. He could not give up on them.

After the event, we all talked to Trevor and surrounded him with an outpouring of love and friendship. There were hugs, smiles and tears. Our mutual friend Stephen went up to Trevor and said, "I don't normally kiss guys, but for you I'll make an exception," and gave him a peck on the cheek. Trevor grinned.

Later that evening, a group of friends found ourselves at the Economy Shoe Shop again, the same place where we (along with Trevor) mourned for George six years ago.

This time, however, we celebrated life instead. George will have to wait to see Trevor again because he still has valuable work to do down here.

The world isn't done with him yet -- nor is Trevor done with us. And thank God for that!

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