Opinion

Cannan: National Day of Honour May 9 at YLW  

On May 9, Canadians across the country will commemorate our military's mission in Afghanistan with a National Day of Honour. The National Day of Honour was decreed by Royal Proclamation as Canada welcomed home the last 84 members of the Canadian Armed Forces who were serving in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister made the declaration on March 18, 2014.

The National Day of Honour will give all Canadians the opportunity to salute the fallen, honour currently serving members and veterans, celebrate the strength of Canada’s remarkable military families, and give tribute to all who participated in Canada’s 12-year mission in Afghanistan.

Our community has always shown great support for our troops and their families, especially our own BC Dragoons who were deployed to Afghanistan.  I hope you will join us at the Kelowna International Airport at 10 a.m. to honour our soldiers and share a two-minute Moment of Silence with Canadians across the country.

The Moment of Silence will follow the National Day of Honour Parade in Ottawa, where a single gunshot will signal two minutes of national silence at 1:30 p.m. EDT to reflect upon the sacrifices made during the mission.

Men and women from various units that served in Afghanistan and Veterans and civilians that have defended freedom around the world will participate in the National Day of Honour Parade. A large number of youth are also attending and engaging in this important day. A Youth Remember Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan online learning feature and further material for educators and youth organizations is available at: www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/information-for/educators/learning-modules/afghanistan.

The National Day of Honour will also feature two fly-bys operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force, a traditional and ceremonial form of aerial salute.

Beginning May 4, Canadians will be able to follow a 19-member relay team, injured in Afghanistan, to symbolize the resolve of Canadians to persevere over hardship. The team will carry the last Canadian flag flown in Afghanistan in a specially-built baton to Parliament Hill, which will be passed to the last Task Force Commander who will present it to the Chief of Defence Staff, who will then present the baton to the Prime Minister of Canada.

Canadians and visitors will be able to take a closer look at the baton this fall when it will be placed in the Hall of Honour in the Centre Block on Parliament Hill. Constituents can follow the relay at www.SoldierOn.ca .

The Afghanistan Memorial Vigil will be on display in the Hall of Honour on May 9 before it travels across Canada and to Washington, DC.  The Memorial Vigil contains 190 plaques representing 201 fallen who had served under Canadian command which were formerly part of the Kandahar Air Field cenotaph.

Canadians are being encouraged to post their own personal message of appreciation for the troops on the National Day of Honour website at www.app.forces.gc.ca/ndoh-jndc/national-day-of-honour.html.

Since October 2001, more than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members were deployed to Afghanistan to work with Allies and the Afghan Government to promote security, development, including education and infrastructure, and good governance so that Afghans could build a viable, stable, secure country. Those who served in Afghanistan did so with distinction and honour and the National Day of Honour is our way of recognizing their sacrifice.

For the rest of us it is our abiding duty to remember what they did and why.  As the Prime Minister noted, we owe them and their families a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.

Royal Proclamation, March 17, 2014: Whereas Canadians, both at home and abroad, have honourably, courageously and loyally served Canada by participating in the Afghanistan mission from 2001 to 2014; Whereas March 31, 2014 marks the end of the Canadian military mission in Afghanistan; Whereas the strength and courage demonstrated by our men and women in uniform serving on the battlefield and supported by personnel from other government departments have advanced the national interests of Canada in the fight against terrorism; Whereas the families of our men and women of Her Majesty’s Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian communities from coast to coast to coast have admirably and consistently supported the sacrifices being made by those serving in Afghanistan; Whereas it is desirable to build and strengthen an appreciation in Canadians for their contribution to the Afghanistan campaign and to promote the special role our families and communities play when our sons and daughters are in foreign lands; And whereas it is desirable to recognize our appreciation for the sacrifice of all those who serve our great nation and all those who have paid the ultimate price for freedom; Therefore, His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, orders that a proclamation do issue declaring May 9, 2014 as a “National Day of Honour”.

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