Reading to recall 12 years in Afghanistan

Courtenay Library hosts a free public reading from the Toronto Star’s new e-book, Our Longest War Saturday.

Maj. John Lalonde

Maj. John Lalonde

On Saturday, April 12 at 3 p.m. at the Courtenay Branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library, there will be a free public reading from the Toronto Star’s new e-book, Our Longest War.

Eleven of the Star’s best writers, and Kathleen Kenna, former Washington and South Asia bureau chief, each wrote chapters about Canada’s 12 years in Afghanistan.

Kenna will be introduced by Rob Morrow, her brother and a veteran, who served in the Canadian Army for 20 years on four continents. Kathleen will read excerpts from the book.

A question-and-answer session after the reading will be open to suggestions about what each Canadian can do to show more support to veterans.

You can download Our Longest War for $2.99 at

Kenna is one of the few international journalists to survive an alleged al-Qaeda attack. On March 4, 2002, a group of men hurled a homemade bomb into a vehicle with her photographer-interpreter husband, Hadi Dadashian; Star photographer Bernard Weil and an Afghan driver.

Kathleen was almost killed when the bomb exploded beneath her. Her life was saved, first by her husband and the driver, then by other journalists, including Kathy Gannon, the AP special correspondent wounded in a brutal attack this month in Afghanistan.

Kathleen and Hadi were rescued by U.S. Special Forces, who helped them to safety and, for Kathleen, life-saving surgery at four U.S. military bases in five countries.

The Star then flew her home for more surgery at Vancouver General Hospital. She almost died again during a trauma-induced heart attack in the spring of 2002 at that hospital.

Her recovery was filled with hope.

Hadi wheeled her around Stanley Park in a wheelchair; then she graduated to a walker and a cane. They kayaked before she could walk without help again.

One of her rescuers, Special Forces Air Force Colonel Mike Wright brought his wife to Fanny Bay to meet Kathleen’s family, and reunite with Hadi.

Kathleen was walking without a cane by the first anniversary of the attack, in March, 2003. She won national and international awards for her humanitarian coverage of the Afghanistan war.

Since then, she graduated from San Francisco State University with a masters of science in rehabilitation counselling.

She has worked in four states with people of diverse disabilities.  She works today in Washington state with “wounded warriors” and new veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.