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Tuning into Baghdad regular routine for northwestern B.C. resident

Dual citizenship eased son into U.S. Army

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

TERRACE, British Columbia - It may be a long distance between Terrace and Baghdad, but the Iraqi capital often is on the mind Dutch Canadian Ralph Braam who lives in this northwestern B.C. town. He is keeping a close watch on news from there since his son Kevin serves as a U.S. soldier in Iraq. The Dordt College business administration freshman who has dual citizenship, enlisted with U.S. Army when he was approached by a recruitment team at the Sioux Center, Iowa institution.

A basketball player at the College team, Kevin Braam wanted a change from his busy study and sports routine. When home for Christmas in 2000, he told his startled family he was looking for a new challenge and had signed up with the Army. He received intense training at an ‘experimental base’.

Braam has been in the Persian Gulf area since February and serves with a combat engineering unit. Although his son does not have a frontline assignment, Braam Sr. admits he has followed the news from Iraq with some apprehension, “I flip news channels to see if I can catch a glimpse of Kevin or his unit.” So far Braam has had one letter from his son which took weeks to get to Terrace. It showed evidence of having been checked by censors.

The B.C. man since has learned that his son is not the only Canadian serving in the U.S. Army. From scarcely populated northern B.C. alone there already are several others who owing to their dual Canadian and American citizenship easily could enlist. He also is aware of others with dual Australian or British citizenship who have enlisted in the armies of Australia or the U.K. Braam supports the intervention in Iraq by the coalition and is disappointed Canada is not part of it. 

Employed as a machinist, Braam hails from the “bollenstreek” and was a toddler when his parents (his father is from Lisse and his mother - a Van der Kwaak - was born in Sassenheim) decided to emigrate to Canada. The family arrived in Terrace via stints in Lethbridge (AB) and Creston (BC) and switched to work in the forestry sector. He is not aware of a military tradition in the family.