Canada’s 12-year mission saw 40,000 Canadian soldiers and support personnel serve in Afghanistan, our largest military deployment since the Second World War. During the mission, 158 members of the Canadian Armed Forces were killed. More than 2,000 military personnel were wounded.
Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino announced yesterday that a permanent national memorial to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan will be constructed in Ottawa. The memorial, to be unveiled in 2017, will specifically recognize and honour the hard work, courage and personal sacrifices made by Canadians while in service to their country during the Afghanistan conflict.
Minister Fantino also announced that the National War Memorial, which is the central place of remembrance for those who have served, will be inscribed with the dates of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan (2001-2014) and that a ceremony to unveil the inscription will be held later this year.
Today, the Prime Minister, Governor General and other dignitaries, military families and personnel were on Parliament Hill to mark the end of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan during the first-ever National Day of Honour. In commemoration, a Leopard tank, a Chinook helicopter, and a collection of armoured vehicles including a Coyote reconnaissance vehicle and a Bison armoured ambulance were in front of the Parliament, as well as a range of weaponry including a long-barreled M-777 howitzer. There were Chinook and Griffin helicopters, Hercules, Airbus and Globemaster transport planes. The ceremony was reminiscent of Remembrance Day, with a 21-gun salute, prayers, choirs, and the Last Post.
At the ceremony, 63 army regiments, including special forces and the navy’s fleet diving unit, and four squadrons of the air were bestowed an Afghanistan Theatre Honour and 15 warships received the Arabian Sea Honour.
Canada’s role in Afghanistan cannot be summed up in a blog, nor can the resulting implications or consequences. Our involvement in the Afghanistan is over, but now is the time to remember the dedication, bravery, and sacrifice from our Forces. Lest we forget.