Take the time to remember

Canadians were surprised to learn another Canadian soldier, Master Corporal Byron Greff, had been killed in Afghanistan.
Canadian soldiers were supposed to be removed from the fighting war of that country. At least, that was what was thought when our nation withdrew from its combat mission back in July.
And with equal surprise we learned of the death of Sgt Janick Gilbert, who died after parachuting with two other search technicians into the icy Arctic waters to rescue two lost Inuit hunters from Igloolik.
Soldiers should not perish doing rescue work in Canada.
Wars and peacekeeping are tricky affairs for any nation that participates in them. We all wish that soldiers would not die or be hurt, but we know we can’t prevent those things from happening.
While it’s a tragedy that 16 people died in that suicide bombing that claimed the live of M. Cpl. Greff, many innocent children and adults also perished in the blast simply because they had been in that place at that time.
This Friday, we will gather at the cenotaph again as the numbers of living young men who left our community to fight in Europe and the Far East during World War II dwindle and grow fewer each year.
During the Korean War, Canada provided the third-largest contingent of troops (26,791). Their number of returning veterans, too, is declining rapidly.
After the Korean truce was signed, 33 Canadians were killed during the peacekeeping phase that Canada participated in up to 1955. Meanwhile, about 30,000 Canadians volunteered to fight with the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.
Over the decades, Canada has participated in more than 50 United Nations and NATO actions around the world. Many are still ongoing today. And whether it was Korea or Cyprus, Bosnia or Yugoslavia, Canadians have suffered deaths.
Peacekeeping and training can be as dangerous as war in many countries. Soldiers and civilians working for the Canadian government have died or been permanently disabled. So, too, have Canadian military personnel providing rescue services to Canadians in our country.
War and peacekeeping have left their scars on many Canadian veterans. Today, many who participated in the first Gulf War complain of what is known as the Gulf War Syndrome. Many who returned from Bosnia, and most recently from Afghanistan, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Gen. Romeo Dallaire, who led the United Nations’ peacekeepers in Rwanda and experienced the death of 14 U.N. soldiers and the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Tutsi and Hutu people, suffered greatly for his work in peacekeeping.
War and peacekeeping leave long, lasting scars.
Young people from the district already are on their second or third tour of duty into Afghanistan. Canadian troops realize that in training the Afghan people to protect their own country, they are risking their lives.
The federal government has committed our troops and civilians in Afghanistan to this role through March, 2014. It is no small measure of sacrifice that we ask of our armed forces.
On Friday, take time to join with family and comrades the ceremony at the cenotaph. We do it to remember those who have died to make our country and world a safer place.
We do it to keep fresh in our minds the men and women soldiers who today put themselves at risk trying to improve the lives of others in Canada and around the world.

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