Reprinted from the Toronto Sun.
TORONTO – Darlene Cushman’s son is not coming home no matter what political deals are worked out.
Trooper Darryl Caswell already had his repatriation. But his was in a box.
In fact, Saturday’s secret homecoming of the murderous, convicted terrorist/boy soldier brought on the opposite of happy for the mom of one of Canada’s 158 fallen soldiers in the war in Afghanistan.
It brings it all back.
“He is very, very happy to be home,” Omar Khadr’s lawyer John Norris said Saturday.
Isn’t that nice for him.
Forgive Cushman if she doesn’t pop the cork on a bottle of champagne to celebrate this weekend’s big news.
“It’s a very sad day,” said Cushman whose “wonderful son” was killed in 2007 by a road side bomb like the ones the Khadr family has been accused of planting in Afghanistan. “It’s re-hurting all us parents and families all over again.”
The irony is sick.
Khadr was released from the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and landed at CFB Trenton — the same place all fallen Canadian soldiers have been returned after being killed in Afghanistan.
He then travelled for a short portion of the Highway of Heroes to his last stop at Millhaven Penitentiary before most likely next year becoming a free man.
But he is no hero.
In fact, he was part of the enemy who fought against our side.
And no matter the spin, he is responsible and pleaded guilty to the murder of an American ally.
“There are no real words to describe it,” said a sombre Cushman. “He is going to get freedom and my son and the others are not going to get that second chance.”
Slain U.S. Sgt. Christopher Speer, a combat medic, won’t either.
Meanwhile, Khadr’s lawyer described the now 26-year-old as being “in good spirits.”
I’m glad somebody is.
“It still hurts every day,” said Cushman. “There is no justice.”
Still, the hands of Canadian government officials were tied in this one and there was little else they could do but to receive Khadr.
Poor Public Safety Minister Vic Toews looked like he was going to throw up at a Winnipeg news conference but he still got the point across that “Omar Khadr is a known supporter of the al-Qaida terrorist network and a convicted terrorist.”
You bet he is.
And, before long, he will be living and enjoying all of the freedoms Canadians in a free country enjoy. He is Canadian and Canada has brought him home.
But now that Canada did it’s part it’s time for Khadr to do his. Canada is a forgiving country and other killers and followers of tyranny have received second chances here before.
However, not before there was some contrition offered.
Forgiveness will come, but first Khadr needs to renounce all his former jihadist ways and speak out against all of it. He needs to become the symbol of all that is wrong with radical Islam and encourage young people to stay out of holy wars.
He also needs to properly apologize for all he’s done.
Canadians also need, and deserve, to hear from Khadr that he understands just how lucky he is to be Canadian and that he denounces all forms of terrorism.
He may even want to say thank you.
But even if he ever does any of this, you’ll forgive a mom of a fallen soldier like Darlene Cushman if she doesn’t get excited for him.