Remembrance Day 2008
Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze was killed in Afghanistan on 2 March, 2008 when the vehicle he was traveling in hit an Improvised Explosive Device. The incident occurred west of Kandahar city in the Mushan region, located in the District of Panjawayi. The explosion hit a convoy driving supplies to an Afghan army outpost. Trooper Hayakaze, 25, was a member of Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), based out of Edmonton, Alberta. He was evacuated from the scene by helicopter, but later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead upon his arrival at the Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield. Trooper Hayakaze had been scheduled to return to Canada in just a few days, after six months in the turbulent central Asian country.
This year’s Remembrance Day ceremony at the Japanese Canadian cenotaph in Stanley Park was attended by Ted Hayakaze, the father of Trooper Michael Yuki Hayakaze. Mr Hayakaze kindly agreed to speak to The Bulletin about his experience.
Ted Hayakaze Interview
Mr. Hayakaze, I was moved by the talk you gave at the reception following the Remembrance Day at Stanley Park this year. Tell me about your son, Michael.
He was very athletic, energetic, good looking tall young man who was very proud of his Japanese heritage.
How did you feel when Michael told you he was joining the Canadian Armed Forces?
Oh I was so proud of him, making such an important decision by himself to carry our family tradition as a Samurai warrior. He was so proud to go to a battle front with a brand new Senninbari sash with stitches that formed a shape of tiger.
I think one of the greatest tragedies in the world is for a parent to lose a child. The tragedy takes on a different meaning, though, when that child is killed while serving in the army, fighting for ones country. I imagine that one’s pain and emotions must take on a certain level of complexity and nuance. What did you feel when you first found out that Michael had been killed, and have your feelings changed in the months since you found out?
I thought, Oh, they’ve got him ! However you were prepared when you send your son to a battle front, you always hope that somehow a bullet would miss your son. I had seen in the TV news about other brave soldiers getting killed, but I didn’t think of it actually happening to my own son.
For most of us attending Remembrance Day ceremonies, the idea of war is rather abstract. What was it like for you attending the ceremony last month?
Listening to the poem In Flanders Fields, it was a very first time I really understood the meaning of those words. Such moving words as Honour, Sacrifice, Courage, those brave soldiers carried to battle field to die for a love of country made me proud of being a Japanese living in a faraway land.
Has Michael’s death changed your views on Canada’s participation in the war in Afghanistan?
We are sending our brave soldiers to participate in a process of making a world a better place to live. Without them, Canada would be a laughing stock amongst democratic countries.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Human struggle may never end while there are people benefiting from less fortunate and oppressed people in the world. It is a soldiers’ business to go to a battle, but it is citizen’s duty to remember those soldiers who died for us. I thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak Michael’s memory. My family would most be honoured if everyone could cherish Michael’s memory.