MP Report, By Scott Armstrong
Soldier, families recognized for their contribution to Canada, Afghanistan
On March 31, 2014, Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan officially ended. On May 9, Tammy and I were honoured to attend the National Day of Honour Ceremony on Parliament Hill.
The Day of Honour was an opportunity for all Canadians to salute the fallen, honour our veterans and to celebrate the strength of Canada’s remarkable military families. It was a nationwide tribute to all who participated in Canada’s 12-year mission in Afghanistan.
To quote the Royal Proclamation that established the National Day of Honour, “the strength and courage demonstrated by our men and women in uniform serving in the battlefield and supported by personnel from other government departments have advanced the national interests of Canada in the fight against terrorism.”
The war in Afghanistan was the longest armed conflict in which Canada has participated. To put this in perspective, a five-year-old primary grade student who was just beginning their school experience on Sept. 11, 2001 will be graduating from high school this spring.
If that student was a female in Afghanistan, she wasn’t even permitted to attend school until the Taliban government was overthrown. Literally a whole generation of girls can now go to school in Afghanistan due to the sacrifice of our soldiers.
A higher percentage of women sit in government in Afghanistan than in the House of Commons and although the country is still dangerous, it’s far safer and more democratic than before the allied intervention.
During the war in Afghanistan, 158 Canadian soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice. I want to make sure our communities realize that no riding in Canada has sacrificed more than Cumberland Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley during the war. Of the 158 soldiers who died defending freedom in Afghanistan, five called our riding home:
• Cpl. James Hamilton (Truro)
• Sgt. Darcy Tedford (Earltown)
• Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish (Truro)
• Cpl. Christopher Jonathan Reid, MID (Truro)
• Pte. Nathan Smith (Tatamagouche)
As part of the National Day of Honour, several public and private events were held to recognize the soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice and their families. I was pleased to meet several of the parents of these soldiers who made the trip to Ottawa to participate in these somber ceremonies.
As a member of parliament, it was sobering to see the parents of these local heroes on Parliament Hill as they paid tribute to their fallen children. They represented their families with class and grace during an event that was incredibly emotional for all in attendance. They say people can rise to any challenge if they have the courage to try. The courage and character these parents displayed on what had to be one of the most trying days of their lives was a true testament to the type of children they raised.
In Canada, we have a lot for which we can be proud — our history, our democracy and our contribution to freedom around the world. During all Remembrance Day memorial services, I encourage everyone to take a moment not only to remember those who lost their lives in defence of our ideals and values, but to also honour the families they left behind. These families truly should be respected and honoured.
Scott Armstrong is the Conservative MP for Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.