For most of my life, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day was mainly about those who had died in wars from long ago. The Legion Halls were mostly used by older people, and fewer and fewer were able to attend the ceremonies at the War Memorial in town. This was during and soon after the era of the Cold War, when most of the fighting was being done by a very few puppet states from either side, and where our main contribution was peace-keeping in places like Cyprus, the Sinai, etc. We did lose about 100 people in Vietnam.
It felt like the wars were ending, and this was part of the euphoria everyone felt when the Berlin Wall fell, the Warsaw Pact states in Eastern Europe gained independence, and Bush Senior started talking about a New World Order with international and multilateral forces working together to maintain peace and develop a global, interdependent society.
Then the freed states started settling disputes long held in abeyance by the superpowers of the Cold War, ethnic cleansing became the current euphemism for attempted genocides, and numerous small (and not so small) conflicts began again; there was Yugoslavia, Chechnya, the Tamil Tigers, Indonesia, and the first Iraq War. Through most of this Canadians worked to maintain peace, and tried to keep to the ideal of peace-keeping rather than peace-making. We did play a role in Iraq, but it was small, and I think no Canadian soldier died in battle. But this was also the period that set up the conditions for the development of the Taliban and al-Quaeda, especially in Afghanistan.
Then there was 9/11, and the beginning of the War on Terror. We contributed to the UN sanctioned conflict in Afghanistan, and refused to sanction the invasion of Iraq. Since then we have been fighting fairly steadily, and for the most part in a good cause. We are trying to help stabilise the situation in Afghanistan, and to get them to a stage where they can help themselves again. But it is a war, and we are starting to lose people again. Young veterans are starting to appear at the memorials.
As of today, 42 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan. Of those, four have been from home in Newfoundland. There have also been seven from Nova Scotia, one from New Brunswick, two from Quebec, sixteen from Ontario, one from Manitoba, two from Saskatchewan, five from Alberta, two from British Columbia, and a Corporal Scott Jeffrey Walsh who’s hometown hasn’t been listed yet. There is also a Corporal David Braun from Scunthorpe, which I can’t locate.
Among the other nationalities fighting in Afghanistan, there have been 350 fatalities from the United States, 41 from the United Kingdom, 19 from Spain, 18 from Germany, 9 each from Italy and France, 4 each from the Netherlands and Romania, 3 from Denmark, 2 from Sweden, and 1 each from Australia, Norway, and Portugal.
These are the fallen from home.
Sergeant Craig Paul Gillam of the Royal Canadian Dragoons, died in combat on October 3, 2006, near Kandahar. He was from South Branch and was 40 years old. He is survived by a wife and two children.
Warrant Officer Richard Nolan of the Royal Canadian Regiment died due to hostile fire on September 3, 2006 , in the Panjwaii district. He was from Mount Pearl and was 39 years old. He is survived by four children and his common-law partner.
Sergeant Vaughn Ingram of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry was killed by hostile fire near Kandahar at Pashmul on August 3, 2006. He was from Burgeo and was 35. He is survived by two brothers and his parents.
Corporal Jamie Brendan Murphy of the Royal Canadian Regiment Battalion Group was killed by hostile fire and a suicide bomber on January 27, 2004. He was 26 and from Conception Harbour. He is survived by his parents, sisters, and his girlfriend.
And with bowed head and heart abased
Strive hard to grasp the future gain in this sore loss.
For not one foot of this dank sod
But drank its surfeit of the blood of gallant men
Who for their Faith, their Hope, for Life and Liberty
Here made the sacrifice.
Here gave their lives, and right willingly for you and me.
-John Oxenham, entrance to the Beaumont-Hamel Memorial
Read Full Post »