Proposal to include Afghanistan on National War Memorial quietly killed

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Proposal to include Afghanistan on National War Memorial quietly killed

J.Garnier
J.Garnier

September 13th, 2011, 11:49 pm #1

The Canadian Press,Murray Brewster.

OTTAWA - The Defence Department has shelved an elaborate proposal to revamp the National War Memorial to honour Canadians who fought in Afghanistan.
The plan, a copy of which was seen by The Canadian Press, involved etching the dates 2001-2011 into the granite sides of the downtown monument that was first erected to honour the sacrifices of troops during the First World War.
The $2.1-million plan, which included the addition of an eternal flame to the monument, was circulated at National Defence headquarters last October, say senior military sources.
The proposal also recommended a commemoration ceremony, preferably on Remembrance Day this year, that would have involved the families of 157 soldiers who died throughout the combat mission, which concluded in Kandahar this summer.
It also suggested a stone-and-marble memorial, erected behind the Canadian headquarters in Kandahar, be brought to Ottawa and reassembled at the Beechwood Cemetery, where many casualties of the Afghan campaign are buried.
The proposal was made to the chief of defence staff, as well as senior civilian leaders, including former junior defence minister Laurie Hawn, but was quietly dropped without explanation.
Defence officials confirm the plan was never brought forward for a decision, and came before the Harper government had decided to continue a presence in Afghanistan through the NATO training mission in Kabul, which will continue until 2014.
"These men and women in uniform are in harm's way and it is clearly inappropriate to commemorate a mission which has yet to be completed," said Joshua Zanin, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
"When the last troops return home to their families at the conclusion of the mission, the full scope of Canada's contributions in Afghanistan, including all the work of all those who have sacrificed and fallen in the service of their country, will be appropriately recognized and commemorated."
The Harper government has previously insisted that combat is over for Canadian troops and that the training mission is benign. To emphasize the point, it refused to put the training deployment to a vote in Parliament.
The prime minister visited Kandahar at the end of May to mark the end of the combat mission, although it continued until early July.

The day combat operations ceased in July, the Harper government said nothing to mark the occasion, although the Taliban noted the event for Afghans and the world.
Other than acknowledging the sacrifice of soldiers in Kandahar in ceremonies related to 9-11, the Harper government and has been silent about the mission, preferring to move on from the bruising debates and the incendiary politics that characterized the war.
Douglas Bland, a former soldier and defence academic at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said changes to the memorial could rekindle the fading debate, but also ignite a new one about whether Afghanistan with 157 casualties qualifies to stand alongside the much larger sacrifices of earlier wars.
"Commemorations are appropriate in this circumstance," Bland said Tuesday. "When you're looking at scale, there is a big difference. I think a monument to Afghanistan, somewhere in the National Capital Region would be useful."
In the First World War, 66,944 Canadian soldiers were killed along with 2,000 civilians. A generation later, the Second World War claimed 45,000 soldiers and Korea left 516 dead.
Bland said soldiers who fought in Korea came home to a subdued welcome and had to fight for recognition over the decades. Kandahar veterans are unlikely to face the same public indifference, he said, because media coverage of the war was "in your face" and Canadians are more aware of the hardships.
The now-abandoned memorial proposal acknowledged that the Defence Department had a vested interest in shaping the post-combat mission narrative and worried how history would view the country's decade-long war.
"Above all else, the nation must not believe that the efforts of soldiers, public servants, police, of our dead and wounded, of the decade and billions spent were somehow in vain," said the briefing.
It took almost 20 years after the devastation of the First World War for the federal government to design and erect the national war monument, which was known as The Response.
The inclusion of the Second World War and the Korea War on the sides of the monument didn't take place until 1982. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added in 2000.
The presentation noted that the federal government didn't even begin to think about commemorating the sacrifices of the First War World until 1925, well after the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice.
"We should not allow seven years to pass before commemorating Afghanistan," said the PowerPoint briefing.
It urged senior leaders in the Defence Department to talk with Veterans Affairs Canada and the National Capital Commission, both of which are responsible for the site southeast of Parliament Hill.
The Royal Canadian Legion, with 500,000 members and 1,600 branches, has been organizing local events to show appreciation for the troops, but also noted the Harper government's silence about the coming Nov. 11 Remembrance Day ceremonies.
"It is just a normal Remembrance Day," said the legion's communications director, Bob Butt.
"There has been no indication (from Veterans Affairs) of anything different happening. We would have expected to have been briefed, if there was something different."
Butt said the Legion would happily support the inclusion of the Afghanistan dates and the eternal flame, but noted the issue has not been debated among members.



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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 14th, 2011, 12:30 am #2

As noted in the article, the mission to Afghanistan isn't over and Canadian soldiers are still at risk of life and limb in the country. Would be silly to start memorializing in bronze and stone a war that has not yet concluded. Silently killing the proposal seems very apt.

I'll be more interested to know what the battle honour committees do with the participation of the Militia regiments. I believe there is precedent for an Afghanistan honour even for those units that did not serve as formed bodies - the South Africa honour was granted for units offering augmentees/volunteers for overseas service, even though they did not serve as complete units.

http://regimentalrogue.com/battlehonour ... a-npam.htm

It would be an interesting turn of events to see this happen with Afghanistan; our local infantry regiment here in Calgary had several dozen soldiers serve in various capacities there.

Michael Dorosh
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canadiansoldiers.com
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Ed Storey
Ed Storey

September 14th, 2011, 5:37 am #3

The Canadian Press,Murray Brewster.

OTTAWA - The Defence Department has shelved an elaborate proposal to revamp the National War Memorial to honour Canadians who fought in Afghanistan.
The plan, a copy of which was seen by The Canadian Press, involved etching the dates 2001-2011 into the granite sides of the downtown monument that was first erected to honour the sacrifices of troops during the First World War.
The $2.1-million plan, which included the addition of an eternal flame to the monument, was circulated at National Defence headquarters last October, say senior military sources.
The proposal also recommended a commemoration ceremony, preferably on Remembrance Day this year, that would have involved the families of 157 soldiers who died throughout the combat mission, which concluded in Kandahar this summer.
It also suggested a stone-and-marble memorial, erected behind the Canadian headquarters in Kandahar, be brought to Ottawa and reassembled at the Beechwood Cemetery, where many casualties of the Afghan campaign are buried.
The proposal was made to the chief of defence staff, as well as senior civilian leaders, including former junior defence minister Laurie Hawn, but was quietly dropped without explanation.
Defence officials confirm the plan was never brought forward for a decision, and came before the Harper government had decided to continue a presence in Afghanistan through the NATO training mission in Kabul, which will continue until 2014.
"These men and women in uniform are in harm's way and it is clearly inappropriate to commemorate a mission which has yet to be completed," said Joshua Zanin, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
"When the last troops return home to their families at the conclusion of the mission, the full scope of Canada's contributions in Afghanistan, including all the work of all those who have sacrificed and fallen in the service of their country, will be appropriately recognized and commemorated."
The Harper government has previously insisted that combat is over for Canadian troops and that the training mission is benign. To emphasize the point, it refused to put the training deployment to a vote in Parliament.
The prime minister visited Kandahar at the end of May to mark the end of the combat mission, although it continued until early July.

The day combat operations ceased in July, the Harper government said nothing to mark the occasion, although the Taliban noted the event for Afghans and the world.
Other than acknowledging the sacrifice of soldiers in Kandahar in ceremonies related to 9-11, the Harper government and has been silent about the mission, preferring to move on from the bruising debates and the incendiary politics that characterized the war.
Douglas Bland, a former soldier and defence academic at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said changes to the memorial could rekindle the fading debate, but also ignite a new one about whether Afghanistan with 157 casualties qualifies to stand alongside the much larger sacrifices of earlier wars.
"Commemorations are appropriate in this circumstance," Bland said Tuesday. "When you're looking at scale, there is a big difference. I think a monument to Afghanistan, somewhere in the National Capital Region would be useful."
In the First World War, 66,944 Canadian soldiers were killed along with 2,000 civilians. A generation later, the Second World War claimed 45,000 soldiers and Korea left 516 dead.
Bland said soldiers who fought in Korea came home to a subdued welcome and had to fight for recognition over the decades. Kandahar veterans are unlikely to face the same public indifference, he said, because media coverage of the war was "in your face" and Canadians are more aware of the hardships.
The now-abandoned memorial proposal acknowledged that the Defence Department had a vested interest in shaping the post-combat mission narrative and worried how history would view the country's decade-long war.
"Above all else, the nation must not believe that the efforts of soldiers, public servants, police, of our dead and wounded, of the decade and billions spent were somehow in vain," said the briefing.
It took almost 20 years after the devastation of the First World War for the federal government to design and erect the national war monument, which was known as The Response.
The inclusion of the Second World War and the Korea War on the sides of the monument didn't take place until 1982. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added in 2000.
The presentation noted that the federal government didn't even begin to think about commemorating the sacrifices of the First War World until 1925, well after the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice.
"We should not allow seven years to pass before commemorating Afghanistan," said the PowerPoint briefing.
It urged senior leaders in the Defence Department to talk with Veterans Affairs Canada and the National Capital Commission, both of which are responsible for the site southeast of Parliament Hill.
The Royal Canadian Legion, with 500,000 members and 1,600 branches, has been organizing local events to show appreciation for the troops, but also noted the Harper government's silence about the coming Nov. 11 Remembrance Day ceremonies.
"It is just a normal Remembrance Day," said the legion's communications director, Bob Butt.
"There has been no indication (from Veterans Affairs) of anything different happening. We would have expected to have been briefed, if there was something different."
Butt said the Legion would happily support the inclusion of the Afghanistan dates and the eternal flame, but noted the issue has not been debated among members.


I have some experience with the Canadian Memorials to the Fallen in SWA as over the past two years I have had the opportunity to visit many in person. Last October I also oversaw the successful dismantling and repatriation of the Camp Mirage Memorial which is now on permanent indoor display at the RCAF Museum in Trenton. Trenton was chosen as the site for this memorial as it is the start of The Highway of Heroes and is the airhead where the families first met up with their fallen loved ones.





These two images show the locally employed persons who very carefully removed the outer layer of the memorial from the concrete core and then had the arduous seven-day task in +40C heat and humidity of demolishing the concrete to bring the site back down to grade.





I am fortunate to get to sit in on some of the meetings that have taken place concerning the SWA memorials and everyone can rest assured that the sacrifice made by Canadians for world peace will be remembered.

Here is an image of the Kandahar Memorial which will also be repatriated back to Canada.

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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 14th, 2011, 5:47 am #4

Now that you mention it, the names of soldiers fallen in Afghanistan are located in two places - actually, three - in Calgary.

All soldiers killed in Afghanistan are memorialized on the Peacekeeper's Memorial wall here at Peacekeeper's Park. Someone was worried, apparently, they would receive no memorial, so the decision was made to put their names on it.

A memorial to Calgary area soldiers was also dedicated in the last year. The original intent as I understand it had been to memorialize soldiers killed in the world wars, with names limited to those who served directly in Calgary area Army regiments, who were celebrating their 100th anniversaries (KOCR, Calgary Highlanders, 14 Service Battalion, and predecessor units of the supporting corps/CEF battalions). Of course, it only takes a single family member of a recently fallen soldier to feel left out, so Afghanistan soldiers were quickly added to the Calgary Soldiers Memorial as well.

I suspect those soldiers of the PPCLI who have been killed in Afghanistan also appear - or will in due course - on the wall of honour in their regimental gallery at The Military Museums in Calgary also.
Michael Dorosh
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canadiansoldiers.com
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Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson

September 14th, 2011, 8:17 pm #5

The Canadian Press,Murray Brewster.

OTTAWA - The Defence Department has shelved an elaborate proposal to revamp the National War Memorial to honour Canadians who fought in Afghanistan.
The plan, a copy of which was seen by The Canadian Press, involved etching the dates 2001-2011 into the granite sides of the downtown monument that was first erected to honour the sacrifices of troops during the First World War.
The $2.1-million plan, which included the addition of an eternal flame to the monument, was circulated at National Defence headquarters last October, say senior military sources.
The proposal also recommended a commemoration ceremony, preferably on Remembrance Day this year, that would have involved the families of 157 soldiers who died throughout the combat mission, which concluded in Kandahar this summer.
It also suggested a stone-and-marble memorial, erected behind the Canadian headquarters in Kandahar, be brought to Ottawa and reassembled at the Beechwood Cemetery, where many casualties of the Afghan campaign are buried.
The proposal was made to the chief of defence staff, as well as senior civilian leaders, including former junior defence minister Laurie Hawn, but was quietly dropped without explanation.
Defence officials confirm the plan was never brought forward for a decision, and came before the Harper government had decided to continue a presence in Afghanistan through the NATO training mission in Kabul, which will continue until 2014.
"These men and women in uniform are in harm's way and it is clearly inappropriate to commemorate a mission which has yet to be completed," said Joshua Zanin, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay.
"When the last troops return home to their families at the conclusion of the mission, the full scope of Canada's contributions in Afghanistan, including all the work of all those who have sacrificed and fallen in the service of their country, will be appropriately recognized and commemorated."
The Harper government has previously insisted that combat is over for Canadian troops and that the training mission is benign. To emphasize the point, it refused to put the training deployment to a vote in Parliament.
The prime minister visited Kandahar at the end of May to mark the end of the combat mission, although it continued until early July.

The day combat operations ceased in July, the Harper government said nothing to mark the occasion, although the Taliban noted the event for Afghans and the world.
Other than acknowledging the sacrifice of soldiers in Kandahar in ceremonies related to 9-11, the Harper government and has been silent about the mission, preferring to move on from the bruising debates and the incendiary politics that characterized the war.
Douglas Bland, a former soldier and defence academic at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said changes to the memorial could rekindle the fading debate, but also ignite a new one about whether Afghanistan with 157 casualties qualifies to stand alongside the much larger sacrifices of earlier wars.
"Commemorations are appropriate in this circumstance," Bland said Tuesday. "When you're looking at scale, there is a big difference. I think a monument to Afghanistan, somewhere in the National Capital Region would be useful."
In the First World War, 66,944 Canadian soldiers were killed along with 2,000 civilians. A generation later, the Second World War claimed 45,000 soldiers and Korea left 516 dead.
Bland said soldiers who fought in Korea came home to a subdued welcome and had to fight for recognition over the decades. Kandahar veterans are unlikely to face the same public indifference, he said, because media coverage of the war was "in your face" and Canadians are more aware of the hardships.
The now-abandoned memorial proposal acknowledged that the Defence Department had a vested interest in shaping the post-combat mission narrative and worried how history would view the country's decade-long war.
"Above all else, the nation must not believe that the efforts of soldiers, public servants, police, of our dead and wounded, of the decade and billions spent were somehow in vain," said the briefing.
It took almost 20 years after the devastation of the First World War for the federal government to design and erect the national war monument, which was known as The Response.
The inclusion of the Second World War and the Korea War on the sides of the monument didn't take place until 1982. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added in 2000.
The presentation noted that the federal government didn't even begin to think about commemorating the sacrifices of the First War World until 1925, well after the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice.
"We should not allow seven years to pass before commemorating Afghanistan," said the PowerPoint briefing.
It urged senior leaders in the Defence Department to talk with Veterans Affairs Canada and the National Capital Commission, both of which are responsible for the site southeast of Parliament Hill.
The Royal Canadian Legion, with 500,000 members and 1,600 branches, has been organizing local events to show appreciation for the troops, but also noted the Harper government's silence about the coming Nov. 11 Remembrance Day ceremonies.
"It is just a normal Remembrance Day," said the legion's communications director, Bob Butt.
"There has been no indication (from Veterans Affairs) of anything different happening. We would have expected to have been briefed, if there was something different."
Butt said the Legion would happily support the inclusion of the Afghanistan dates and the eternal flame, but noted the issue has not been debated among members.


Just as a matter of interest did Canada officially declare the Afghanistan mission a war or is it considered another peacekeeping operation? Do they treat those that paid the ultimate sacrifice differently when it comes to peacekeeping operations in such matters as war memorials?
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Doug Townend
Doug Townend

September 15th, 2011, 12:14 am #6

the Prime Minister refers to it as a war. Its a war if the Taliban are attacking you and soldiers are dying. Its a war if the Canadian Memorial Cross is awarded to survivors of the military person who was killed in combat.

While Canada did not publicly declare it a war, the conflict in Afghanistan resulted from the USA declaring an attack on it after 9/11. Under NATO's charter an attack on one member is an attack on all members so Canada acknowledged its NATO obligations by sending troops to combat the Taliban which it was said was harbouring Osama Bin Laden the power behind the 9/11 attack.

This is my understanding.

DT.
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