It was a distinguished group that gathered on the shores of Okanagan Lake Tuesday to honour Captain Jonathan Snyder on the fifth anniversary of his death in Afghanistan.
Adrienne Clarkson, former governor general of Canada and colonel-in-chief of Snyder’s regiment, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, topped the speaker’s list and had the honour of unveiling a new monument, placed prominently in front of the Lakeshore Hotel on what is now known as Jonathan Snyder walk.
“We will always be proud of Jonathan Snyder, we will always be happy to think that he came from this beautiful place, that he had his education here,” said Clarkson, speaking for the PPCLI, and adding that they are happy to see that the people of Penticton rallied to create this permanent memorial.
“This is the person who came from this place and who represented you in a place of horror and terror,” she said, recounting the many good works done by the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan, including protecting human rights and bringing education to many who never had access before.”
But Clarkson was far from alone in remembering Snyder. The crowd of more than 100 included Snyder’s father David, brother Adam, mother Ann and his fiancée Megan Stewart.
“He never failed to make people laugh, and he always enjoyed life to its fullest. Jon never did anything without a purpose and without the utmost commitment to the task,” said Stewart, adding that was true not only of his military career, but his personal life as well.
“I hope this allows everyone to remember Jon for his military accomplishments, but also to remember the incredible person he was and how much he enriched the lives of everyone he knew,” said Stewart.
Sgt. Christopher Horan, a fellow Pentictonite and PPCLI comrade, added his memories of Snyder in the military.
“I first met Jonathan in army cadets … that’s about 20 years ago now,” said Horan, who ran into Snyder when he first entered the military; they were both in the same facility, Horan beginning basic training and Snyder a couple of weeks into his officer training.
“I bumped into him here and there throughout my training,” said Horan. Eventually, he ran into Snyder again, when Snyder was introduced as the newest officer of PPLI and Horan’s platoon commander.
“It can be very difficult for a young officer to come to a new platoon and fit in,” said Horan, adding that he made plans to quietly support Snyder from behind the scenes. “It turned out that was completely unnecessary. He had absolutely no trouble fitting into his new platoon very quickly.”
Lieutenant-Colonel Bill Fletcher, who was Snyder’s company commander in 2006, during his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, had similar memories.
“I believe what made Jon such a great soldier and a great leader was precisely because he was such a great person,” said Fletcher. “Jon was larger than life and there were no half-measures for him, and it forced everyone, very early on, to take stock of this young officer.”
The memorial was made possible through the work of Rotarian Brian Hughes, though he pointed out it couldn’t have happened without community support, thanking David and Craig Prystay of Lakeside Resort for donating the space and the walkway, architect Cal Meiklejohn, Frank Darin of Sherwood Trophies and Matt Kenyon of Greyback Construction.
“This memorial was built simply because it was the right thing to do,” said Hughes. “This memorial to Jonathan Snyder is one of the most amazing projects I have ever been a part of. Through Jonathan’s memory we discovered the most powerful essence of humanity.”