Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Rededication of the Canadian National War Memorial

Just as many other nations in the world, Canada has a long and honoured Military tradition. Our great Nation, has an extremely long military history - much of that storied history took place before Canada was officially a country/dominion of the British Empire. Canada has always celebrated Remembrance Day, remembering all those who served and died for Canada during war time. During the 2014 Remembrance Day ceremonies Princess Anne helped rededicate the National War Memorial for the third time in its history. Adding two new sets of Dates. 1899-1902 (The South African War) and 2001-2014 (The War in Afghanistan)

The British North America Act of 1867 officially created the Dominion of Canada, and within forty years, Canada would send its first troops overseas to fight in a conflict for the British Empire. Canada would send more than 7,000 troops to South Africa to fight the Boers, descendants of the regions first Dutch immigrants.  Between 1899 and 1902 Canadians fought the Boers, who were not expected to last long against the worlds foremost military power, but the Boers, using what can only be described today as Guerrilla warfare tactics. By the end of the conflict 267 Canadians had paid the ultimate sacrifice, and  many more were injured. Over the past century, there are smaller local monuments commemorating their sacrifice, as well the names of the dead are listed in the Book of Remembrance in Ottawa. The war itself divided Canadians, mainly along language lines, similarly to the Great War in Canada. Remembrance has always been a difficult issues when it came to the South African War. It became part of the National War Memorial this year, and will now always be remembered as part of Canada's fight for freedom and equality around the world.

The South African War dates are added to the side of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada (Photo courtesy of http://blogs.canoe.ca/davidakin/?p=108461)

The second set of dates added to the National War Memorial, are those of Canada's participation in the War in Afghanistan. Starting in 2001 following the attacks of September 11th 2001, Canada sent troops as part of the NATO and UN International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and originally deployed to Kabul, in a non-direct combat roll. Later Canada would redeploy to Kandahar and take part in a direct combat rolls between 2006-2012, before redeploying to Kabul to help train the Afghan National Army. By the official end of the mission - 158 Canadians had paid the ultimate sacrifice and thousands more injured and are facing PTSD, something Canadians have not dealt with on this level through its more "Peacekeeping" operations since the end of the Korean War. When Canada ended official combat operations in 2012, many Canadians called for the government to add the Afghan War dates to the monument, but they were met with restraint, as the deployment of Canadians to Afghanistan had never been officially labelled as a "declared War" - except by the media and historians alike. Members of the government began describing the conflict as a War, but it officially its status remained in limbo - Until this Remembrance Day - when the dates were added to the National War Memorial. It is fitting, as Canada's longest lasting combat operation, and single military operation, lasting thirteen years, and seeing more than 40,000 Canadians see active duty in Afghanistan, the War in Afghanistan deserves to be remembered on a National scale. 

The Afghan War dates added to the side of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada with three members of the Canadian forces who served in Afghanistan standing in front of the newly added dates. (Photo courtesy of http://blogs.canoe.ca/davidakin/?p=108461)