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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:41 am    Post subject: Remembrance Day - Veterans' Day Reply with quote

11th of November is the Remembrance Day here in Canada and Vets' day in the States.

Any thoughts on this? What will you do to appreciate the veterans of past and current wars?

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Show support for veterans and troops

There is a bumper sticker on a truck seen around town, referring to the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. It reads: "If you don't stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them." While a bit crass, the words are a timely reminder that everyone - even if they do not support our involvement in Afghanistan - should come out to Remembrance Day services tomorrow to thank the soldiers who fought in three wars and served in numerous peacekeeping missions, as well as those who continue to serve the cause of freedom today.

A recent opinion poll conducted for The Canadian Press demonstrated the negative feelings Canadians have toward the Afghanistan mission. Of 2,044 respondents, many were massively opposed to remaining in Afghanistan until 2011, rather than withdrawing in February 2009.

Only 15 per cent approved and called the mission a priority, while 19 per cent approved but called it a non-priority. Another 60 per cent either mildly or strongly disapproved.

It's understandable for people to oppose the war in Afghanistan for any number of reasons. There are the pacifists who oppose war for any reason. Others don't understand the mission and our commitment to NATO and the United Nations. Some oppose the Canadian presence because they feel it is solely fuelled by the U.S. and its oil interests in the Middle East, and some believe Prime Minister Stephen Harper is simply kowtowing to American President George Bush.

But it is difficult to fathom why so many of us cannot take an hour out of our admittedly busy lives on Remembrance Day, this year in particular in view of the sacrifices of Canadian lives in Afghanistan, to pay our respects to the soldiers of yesterday and today.

Whether or not Canadians support the government and its decision to help NATO and the UN on this mission, and whether or not they support the people of Afghanistan in their quest for the basic freedoms we now enjoy, like the bumper sticker says, we must support our troops, our sons and daughters who stand at the forefront where the bullets fly, to preserve freedom.

Our failure to individually, and collectively as a community, come out and pay proper respect on Remembrance Day is to forget the sacrifice tens of thousands of our forebearers, many of whom are still alive, made on the battlefields in earlier conflicts.

Our troops do not choose to go to war, they simply do their duty when their country asks them to do so.

War is a ghastly business, whether it is fighting the Nazis or the Taliban. All right-thinking people should oppose war and the devastation it causes - but our freedoms and those of our allies are worth fighting for now as they were in the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.

To not attend Remembrance Day ceremonies is to forget the pain, suffering and death our sons and daughters of another generation endured - and which this generation now faces.

Oppose war, but don't be smug in that opposition to forget the sacrifices of those who answered the call then, and now.

PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remembrance Day ceremonies at Legion


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 8:01 pm    Post subject: Re: Remembrance Day - Veterans' Day Reply with quote

Winston2004 wrote:
What will you do to appreciate the veterans of past and current wars?

My son is involved in Army Cadets. I cannot say enough good about the Cadet movement! One of the pillars of the Cadets is their connection with the Royal Canadian Legion. At most, if not all, Remembrance Day parades, there will be a corps of Cadets marching and/or standing sentinel at the cenotaph. For the past couple of years, I've been at the parades with my son.

This year, instead of marching in the parade, the CO of his Cadet corps asked my son to lead a small flag party to stand sentinel at the cenotaph at the local Legion hall for a smaller ceremony for veterans who aren't able to attend the parade. I'm looking forward to it.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2007 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rememberance Day ceremonies were always huge in the town I grew up in. This probably had a lot to do with the Legion being the only licensed establishment there. To this day, they get literally 70% population turnout for the ceremony.

When I was a cadet, we marched in the parade of the larger nearby parade, then sent a delegation to the town. I had the honour one year of being in the flag party, and reading Flander's Field for the ceremony.

This year will be the second time in my life that I will not be in attendance at a ceremony. I'll be travelling, but I will be sure to pull-over and observe 2 minutes of silence at 11:00.
PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did any one notice the heritage flights over Toronto today?

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was cold and windy but at least it didn't rain this year. Everything went off well despite the usual hiccups (who stands where, position of flags, etc).

PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 10:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's thank the troops (Coalition forces)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I always go to the local armoury Minto where my unit parades, its a good show a service followed by bands & Units marching.

It's gone from hardly anyone going there, to now when it's standing room only.
the silent platform

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since new posts on my blog don't show up on the main page of BT, i thought I'd post this here as well, as it is a very good read and as many people as possible should read it (sorry about the lateness of the remembrance day related post!)

A friend of mine, Sgt. Marcus Sterzer, is currently serving in Afghanistan. He sends semi-regular e-mails back to us, updating us with his take on whats happening over there.

I originally intended to post those e-mails on my blog, as they are very thought-provoking and offer a unique point of view from the inside. I have since decided against doing that though, as I don't want his heartfelt letters fueling some partisan debate about the war.

But on Nov 21, much to my delight, one of his e-mails appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. I've been meaning to post it here for a month now since it is, in my opinion, the best letters he has written.


THIS year, I celebrated Remembrance Day in Afghanistan. We gathered outside our headquarters near a cenotaph erected to all of our comrades who fell in Afghanistan, and received the families of some of the guys who got killed recently.

There were also representatives of the RCMP, government of Canada, and the government of Afghanistan. But most importantly, a platoon of Afghan National Army (ANA) guys showed up along with some senior commanders.

The ceremonies covered our veterans and our fallen from prior conflicts; the First World War, Second World War, Korea and our numerous smaller international deployments. However, as we had lost our own comrades in Afghanistan, the services definitely focused on remembering the sacrifices our brothers in arms made on the current mission.

The service was predominantly in English and French; only for a few certain points did they offer a translation into Dari or Pashtu (I assume Pashtu but I'm not certain). I believe that the phrases translated were the prayers for the fallen given by one of our padres.

Personally, I thought it was a nice gesture to invite the Afghans, but it was an opportunity missed. We spent the majority of the ceremony honouring the Canadians who fell in combat, but only mentioned in passing the Afghan soldiers who died. This was an oversight.

I can say without a doubt in my mind that the ANA pays a steeper price in blood than anybody else in theatre (other than the Taliban of course). Some of their senior officers and NCOs fought the Soviets, and those who were too young (which would have been under 14 at the time) probably fought in the civil war before the Taliban came to power. Others still fought the Taliban throughout its regime.

The Operations and Mentoring Liaison Team (OMLT) are here teaching the ANA. They aren't here teaching these guys how to kill; honestly, they have more experience at it than we do. Nor are we here to teach them how to cope with losses; they've done more dying than we ever will here in theatre. We're here to teach them discipline, professionalism, restraint, administration, tactics, intelligence and logistics. And from what I see and hear, they're learning especially well.

But the fact remains that they've been fighting here for longer than we have, have lost more men than we have (or will), and will be protecting the Afghan people long after we're gone.

The service mentioned the fallen Afghans in passing, but not to the same degree as it dealt with our own. Thus, it was rather embarrassing to listen to our padres recall all the Canadian sacrifices, while in the corner of my eye I could see men who had lost far more friends and family in battle, who have breathed more of the bitter stink of war than us.

We laid 10 wreaths in our ceremony; the families of a number of dead Canadians laid some, as did some senior Canadian officers, the Kandahar chief of police, an ANA brigade commander, and the provincial governor of Kandahar. What were these men thinking when they were planting wreaths for dead Canadians, while behind them in the parade were the battle weary Afghan soldiers clad in their dark green forest camouflage uniforms and their old, rattling AK-47s?

What did they think of us, standing there with our desert camouflage and our high-tech rifles with optical scopes? What did they think, knowing that some of our force was on their "HLTA," a paid vacation to Canada, Thailand, Europe, or any other locale? What did they think, knowing that our risk and hardship bonuses alone could probably outfit an entire ANA battalion with decent uniforms and effective body armour? What do their soldiers think when they arrived for the ceremony in the back of pickup trucks, driving past our LAV-IIIs and Nyala mine-proof armoured vehicles?

I don't mean to insinuate that they don't appreciate the contribution of Canadians; they certainly do. But we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget their contribution. Canadians at home are slowly becoming more cognizant of our own sacrifices, but remain woefully ignorant of the Afghan sacrifices.

Not only that, but I know that my family is safe while I am here in Afghanistan. The same cannot be said of an ANA soldier, or Afghan National Police officer. What do the Taliban do to families of "collaborators" when they can find them? Before Canadians deploy, we have to visit a social worker to ensure that our personal lives are stable, so that issues or problems at home won't distract us when in combat. The Afghan National Army has no such luxury.

I understand that Nov. 11 is Remembrance Day for Canadians and the Commonwealth; it's our day and perhaps the Afghans have their own day to remember their losses. But I think that having invited them to participate in our ceremonies, we should have given them more credit for their sacrifices. In the end, I appreciate that they were truly gracious and professional in the face of our oversight, sharing our ceremony with us in quiet dignity. They visibly honoured our commitment and sacrifice, while silently reflecting on their own. These guys impress me more and more each day.

Sgt. Marcus Sterzer, Joint Task Force Afghanistan, Roto 4, is a full-time reservist with a unit based in Montreal. He was seconded and deployed in mid-July with the VanDoos and will be in Kandahar until next May.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2007 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting that. If your friend permits it, you should post more of his emails - its great to hear unfiltered thoughts from the tip of the spear.
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Remembrance Day - Veterans' Day

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