Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cookstown mother Julie Brown answered the call to put herself in harm's way and serve her country, one coffee at a time.

This posting was sent to me by my friend Jane. I believe she sent it to me for 2 reasons. 1) to share with you.. and 2) well.. I can't really say just yet.
Oh.. and... p.s... a reminder to start sending your Tim Hortons certificates in. See "Upcoming Events" listed in the column to the right.


Mother Answers the Call to Put Herself in Harm's Way
This is an article from The Toronto Sun - Written by friend Joe W.

She has had the rare honour of serving her country at the same time as serving those who serve.

And Julie Brown, amongst many other brave civilians who have done a tour in Afghanistan, is a special kind of war veteran.

"It was life changing," said Brown, who has been back from Kandahar just one week after six months of working in the famous Tim Hortons franchise at the Kandahar Airfield. "I was so proud to be able to do my part to help these fine men and women who sacrifice so much."

The 34-year-old Cookstown mother of two sacrificed as well.

For six months she put herself in harm's way to take the job at the Tim's in a war zone.

"My kids wanted me to do it," she said. "And I really wanted to do my part."

"We are so proud of her," her boyfriend, Ed Knox, said. "We were fully behind her decision right from the beginning."

She had a call to service.

"But not everybody can join the military and be a soldier," Brown said. "This was what I could do."

She had worked as an assistant manager at a Tim Hortons in Newmarket for seven years and knew the ropes. But it did not prepare her for what would go on in Kandahar.

You don't have to wear combat gear on your way to work in Newmarket, and you never hear explosions and rocket launchers either


"When I first got there I was thinking, 'What did I get myself into?' " she said.

And then she met the soldiers.

"They are so brave," she said. "All of us were so impressed with them. I hope Canadians know how special they are."

The Tim Hortons there has all of the same trademarks and a lot of same products.

The difference?

The lineups are a little longer.

"People would line up for an hour for a coffee," she said. "If this was at home, people would complain for sure. But nobody ever complained there."

Even Gen. Rick Hillier, NHL stars like Tiger Williams and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have stood in that line -- as well as troops from the United States and Great Britain, and even some Afghan locals became hooked on the Iced Cappuccinos.

She said there was just something about the coffee, bagel and doughnut that went over so well with the troops.

"I know whenever I was around the Kandahar Airfield I went there every day," said Master Clp. Jody Mitic, who is home after being injured in the line of duty. "It was a real morale booster for everyone."

Brown said you could see that on every soldier's face.

"I think it was a little piece of home and for five minutes you forgot about where you were."

But there would be constant reminders of exactly where you were.

"You'd see guys pull up in a tank or armoured vehicle, wearing full combat gear, get off and come over and order coffees, get back on the tank with them and go out on patrol," she said, shaking her head in amazement.

Sometimes some of those soldiers didn't come back.

"You'd know something was wrong because everything would be locked down," she said.


Then the harsh reality hits the base. In her time there, she felt the pain of more than 20 soldiers dying in action.

"I didn't know every name but I knew every face," she said. "The hardest thing over there was the ramp ceremonies to send them home."

While it was difficult, she needed to be there and understands why people here are drawn to the Hwy. 401 overpasses to salute the fallen soldiers as they're brought home.

As difficult is it is to deal with, she said, everybody would get back to work and soldier on.

And people like Julie Brown are proud to do that.

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