Cpl. Jordan Anderson died at 25 years old, killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2007, along with five other soldiers and an Afghan interpreter.
Eight years later, his mother Sheila remembers everything about him.
“I remember that he was lots of fun, that he was an opinionated arguer,” she said. He was also a voracious reader, an outdoor sports enthusiast who tried to teach her to ski cross-country, and loved to skidoo – the faster the better.
It was that daredevil side that led him to join the military, she said, along with a deep commitment to helping people.
Even though his family was surprised that Jordan joined the military, “He felt that he could make a difference so that was his choice.”
She was afraid for him, she said, but he assured her that only one per cent of Canadian soldiers died, so she shouldn’t worry.
“Guess he didn’t expect to be in the one per cent.”
Sheila Anderson is this year’s recipient of the National Memorial Cross – known as the Silver Cross Mother – chosen by the Royal Canadian Legion to represent the mothers of Canada at the National Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa.
She will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial on behalf of all mothers who have lost a child in active military duty. And she hopes that parents like her realize that Canada is behind them.
“I want to tell the parents, the families that they’re not alone, that Canadians really do support the fallen and the families that they’re attached to,” she said.
She saw that first-hand after her son’s death.
The family had moved since Jordan was deployed, leaving the military the wrong address. So, she didn’t get the bad news first-hand – instead getting a phone call from Jordan’s widow, Amanda.
The family met the plane carrying Jordan’s casket in Trenton, and drove down the Highway of Heroes to Toronto. She was told to prepare for the crowds of people waving flags, standing on top of bridges along the highway, but she was amazed by how Canadians showed up to support their fallen soldiers.
“That was something that really touched me,” she said. “It always surprises me, even though I understand that Canada supports their military.”
All the same, she isn’t sure if Jordan’s death was worth it. “In terms of my son doing what he felt was right and what he believed in, it was worth it.”
“In terms of war, since the War of the Roses, people have been killing each other. They’ve been doing the same thing for the same reasons and getting the same results, which is no result. So I’m not sure that I believe that war is worth it in general.”
As a parent, she has a hard time with what happened – and how little progress has been made since his death. “I don’t like it at all. I don’t believe he died for nothing but Afghanistan is still struggling.”