Like his father and his grandfather before him, Cpl. Michael David Abel dreamed of a long career in the military and embraced his destiny happily. But that dream ended on May 3, 1993, when Cpl. Abel was killed while serving in Somalia.
Now, more than 20 years later, his mother, Diana Abel, will honour his life and the lives of all Canadian service members when she serves as this year’s National Silver Cross Mother.
Diana Abel says she was chosen because members of her son’s regiment campaigned hard for the Royal Canadian Legion to select her. She says it’s an honour to take on the role.
“When I received the call this spring from the legion and I was asked to take on this role, I was very pleased to honour my son, the regiment, and particularly the mothers who have lost children – male and female – in the service of their country,” she told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.
Created in 1919, the Silver Cross for Mothers – formally known as the Memorial Cross – is granted annually to a mother, widow, widower or next-of-kin of Canadian military personnel who lost their lives while on duty.
This year, on the 25th anniversary of the Somalia mission, the nomination committee chose to honour Abel and her son.
Michael Abel , a paratrooper with the Petawawa-based Canadian Airborne Regiment, was the only Canadian killed in the Somalia peacekeeping mission.
His mother remembers him as “a nice boy” who loved his Harley Davidson motorcycle. He also loved children and dreamed of starting a family of his own one day.
“He died when he was only 27 so he didn’t get the chance to have the family he always wanted,” she said.
When Abel lays the wreath at Saturday’s National Remembrance Day ceremony, she will be joined by her 17-year-old grandson John Michael McRae, a member of the 557 Lorne Scots Army Cadet Corp in Brampton.
Both of Abel’s grandsons are cadets and John is applying this year to the Royal Military College in hopes of following in his family’s footsteps.
Abel admits “it’s a little scary” to have another family member become a soldier, but she says her grandson truly loves the cadets and military life and his destiny appears sealed.
“If that’s his calling, then so be it. My father was in the service, my husband was in the service, his other grandfather was also in the service, so it’s bound to happen,” she said.