Take time to pause, reflect

Canadian troops in Afghanistan remain out of sight and away from the conflict, but they should not remain out of our minds.
Almost three weeks ago, the first group of soldiers from the Quebec region left for an eight-month rotation to provide training and professional development to the National Security Forces of Afghanistan.
It is the role the Canadian government chose when our combat troops left that country.
It is Canada’s commitment to NATO and to Afghanistan. Today Canada continues to provide the second-largest contingent of men and women in that country.
While our forces may have been removed from “harm’s way,” they are continuing to play a vital role in establishing Afghanistan’s national security.
I don’t know if we have any local soldiers in that country at the moment, but I do know that district men and women have served tours of duty—and have done so at the point of the spear.
I have thought often of the one local soldier I know who served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. And I have said a silent prayer for his safe return.
I can’t imagine what it is like to have a husband or wife or child striving to bring education, equality, and security to a country so far away. I can’t imagine the worry that is borne by the families at home.
I have watched the joy and euphoria when husbands, wives, sons, and daughters have been reunited. I also have watched as the funeral procession drove along the “Highway of Heroes” as thousands of Canadians lined the route to recognize the 158 Canadian soldiers who died in Afghanistan.
Just because Canadian soldiers are training Afghan policemen and soldiers to provide security in their country does not mean they are safe from harm. To date, more than 50 alliance soldiers have been killed this year alone when Afghan soldiers or police turned their weapons on their trainers.
Canada has been fortunate not to experience these attacks but it is part of the risks we have asked our military to face.
Canada’s commitment to train lasts through 2014. We will have more soldiers rotating to that country.
This Sunday marks Remembrance Day, when we take time to pause and reflect on the men and women who have served our country. We can reflect on the families who continue to sacrifice and support their loved ones who are far away.
It takes but a few minutes to attend the service at the local cenotaph. It is the least we can do for our fallen military and our current forces serving their country around the world.

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