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Petawawa, Ont., Lebanese restaurateurs marking 15 years since son’s death in Afghanistan

Every day at Madameek Lebanese Restaurant in Petawawa, Ont., Hani Diab is filling orders for shawarmas and salads, but he is also fulfilling his son’s dream.

Opened in 2010, Madameek was the dream of Marc Diab, a former trooper at CFB Petawawa.

“We sat down and he said to me, dad, let’s open a shawarma place in Petawawa,” Hani Diab tells CTV News.

“We said, yeah, OK, no problem, when you come back. But he didn’t come back.”

Marc died in 2009 while on deployment in Afghanistan.

At the time, the Diab family was living in Mississauga. Diab recalls dropping everything, selling their home, and moving to the valley to fulfill Marc’s dream.

“So we said, you know, we gave him the promise and that’s how we did it. We came here and we opened the shawarma place.”

March 7 marks 15 years to the day that Marc was killed. Diab says his family has been invited to a commemorative event this weekend at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa for families who have lost loved ones to duty.

“We’re very thankful for the military that they still remember all these fallen soldiers.”

It has been nearly 14 years of successful business for the Diab family in Petawawa.

Customers say it’s the delectable Lebanese food that brings them back, but Diab’s inviting presence, and walls adorned with pictures and memories of Marc are what help create the community atmosphere.

“It has a real family feel,” said Trish MacNaughton, who admitted she was already stopping in for the second time this week.

“It’s a wonderful kind of beginning and intention of the business. I like that aspect of it.”

Some of Diab’s most frequent clientele come from the nearby Garrison, who appreciate the commitment to the Petawawa community.

“We feel a close connection with all our military families, whether or not those members are currently serving or whether or not they’ve moved on,” said Major Jack Murdock, a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force on a visit to CFB Petawawa.

“We’re quite happy to have them here within the Petawawa community and contributing to the greater overall military community that we have here.”

Born in Lebanon, Diab says Marc was dedicated to his new home of Canada, and was determined to see his dream of sharing a love of Lebanese food live on.

“If everybody says no, who’s going to defend Canada? That was his words,” said Diab.

“And we respect that. And we bless him.”

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