Costas Menegakis writes: National Day of Honour
Canada is a nation built on the values of respect for democracy, fundamental freedoms, human rights, and the rule of law. Throughout our history, Canadians have fought tyranny and evil around the world because it was the right thing to do.
Over the last 12 years, the brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces fought and served this country valiantly in Afghanistan to defeat terrorism, and to promote security and development so that Afghans can build a viable, stable, and secure country.
Our men and women in uniform represent the very best our country has to offer.
More than 40,000 brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, along with hundreds of courageous Canadian civilians, fought to help Afghans make their country a more stable, secure and self-reliant place to live, free from the yoke of terrorists and oppressors.
Sadly, this service was not without loss as Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice for these goals and many others were injured carrying out their duties.
Too often in the past our Armed Forces have returned to Canada from their trials with little fanfare. Not so this time. With the completion of the Afghanistan mission, Prime Minister Stephen Harper designated May 9th a National Day of Honour to commemorate the valour, strength and sacrifices of these brave Canadians who served in Afghanistan.
Canadians from across the country came out in force, united in appreciation, to honour the bravery, heroism, strength and sacrifice of those who fought for freedom and security in Afghanistan. The entire country watched with tremendous pride as the Veterans of this mission marched in the Commemoration Parade in Ottawa. Thousands attended events taking place in their own communities right across the country. We were all somber during the two minutes of silence marking a special tribute to the fallen and their families.
To ensure that their contributions are forever in the hearts and minds of Canadians, our Government recently announced that we will create a national memorial to those who served in Afghanistan, in addition to making a new inscription to commemorate the mission onto our existing National War Memorial. We will also be renaming ‘La Promenade Building’ in Ottawa to ‘The Valour Building’ in honour of their strength and service. Prime Minister Stephen Harper also announced that eligible units of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Special Operations Forces who played key roles in Afghanistan have been bestowed with the Arabian Sea or the Afghanistan Theatre Honour.
The strength and courage of our men and women in uniform on both the battlefield and in support roles, has advanced the national interests of Canada in the fight against terrorism and brought great pride to our country.
Our hearts are full of gratitude for those who in service and sacrifice gave so much. We thank every single member, every hero, who served. And we thank and recognize the special role that their families and communities play when our sons and daughters are in foreign lands.
Canada’s Afghanistan Veterans courageously demonstrated the strength, spirit and determination that have defined our nation from the very beginning. Their collective sacrifices represent another chapter in Canada’s long and proud history of fighting for a safer, better world for everyone.
Canadians are forever proud and grateful.
We will never forget.
Costas Menegakis is the Member of Parliament for Richmond Hill and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. He can be contacted at 905.918.1880 or through his website at www.costasmenegakis.ca.