Despite his young age, Marc Diab was a multi-faceted and mature man clear in his commitment to serving Canada. His 2006 decision to join the Canadian Forces, which he called “the best army in the world”, was the culmination of harsh personal experience filtered by thoughtful consideration and heart-felt awareness that Canada had provided Marc and his family with everything they could hope for: peace, human rights, and a lawful society in which to live.

As a very young child growing up in the instability of the war zone in southern Lebanon, soldiers were ever-present. The complexity of the situation ultimately led to clarity for Marc — he would do something with his life that would make a difference and that would protect others and make them safe — and he would do the right thing. From this early age, he knew the human side of conflict but also that the role of the soldier could be to work toward good in the world. And so his mind was made up to be a soldier himself one day. In simple terms, he just wanted to help.

Marc was blessed with a strong family and a strong faith. This did not stop him from being a little boy who sometimes got into just a bit of trouble because he was so full of curiosity! He was constantly exploring and learning. Spending his teenage years in Mississauga, Ontario, he became passionate about photography and poetry, even winning a poetry contest. He taught himself on the keyboards, learning the music by ear. Marc grew into a generous man, often helping others but rarely saying much about his quiet but meaningful actions. He made special efforts to connect with elders in his community, demonstrating respect for both young and old.

Marc was a big-hearted and quirky gift-giver, filling his beloved Jeep to overflowing one Christmas, an event that has become family lore. His warm smile was a special trademark — people felt happy and reassured when they were in his company. Marc was devoted to mentoring young people at summer camps and, because he loved soccer so much, to coaching youth teams. It was here he demonstrated his natural leadership, modeling the importance of good life skills, health, education, and family. Marc was especially accomplished in languages, teaching Lebanese to young people in his community, and learning Pashto in just three weeks before deployment.

Marc’s smile was even bigger when the conversation touched on anything to do with Jeeps! And yet he was a clear-headed, somewhat traditional, and dignified young man, sometimes even being described as an “old soul”. He was pensive yet practical about his desire to serve in Afghanistan, speaking seriously with his family before deployment, and reassuring them by realistically recognizing the potential for risk — not just in his chosen role as soldier — but in all aspects of life. Seemingly wise beyond his years, in this and other trying circumstances, Marc offered friends and family loving guidance.

Marc knew where he was going and what he was doing. A line from his own poem entitled “Fields of Humanity” captures his all too short journey, reflecting perhaps the fears of his early years in Lebanon, his pride in Canada and all it offered him, and the trueness of his belief in rising up to help others through a life of service.

“Like saving a dark memory, and climbing the tree of dignity.”

Giving back was Marc’s true core: indeed, this has become his legacy, through a family and church foundation whose goal is to provide children with the opportunity to develop self-worth, educational success, solid economic potential, and the tools to become productive and self-fulfilled members of society.

Just as Marc was.

By Nancy G. Bateman

Portrait by Cindy Revell