Author Topic: The National War Memorial and the Afghan Mission (and Boer War too)  (Read 10330 times)

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I hope they mean it when they say the bits I've highlighted in yellow....
Quote
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 Canadian Press, 13 Sept 11
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Offline Pusser

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Re: No Afghanistan Dates to be Included on Nat'l War Memorial (Yet?)
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 22:03:56 »
This makes sense when you consider that the National War Memorial itself wasn't even started until 1926 (i.e. eight years after the end of WWI), wasn't finished until 1938 and wasn't officially unveiled until 1939.
Sure, apes read Nietzsche.  They just don't understand it.

Offline Journeyman

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Re: No Afghanistan Dates to be Included on Nat'l War Memorial (Yet?)
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2011, 01:41:46 »
...the National War Memorial....wasn't officially unveiled until 1939.
~whew~   Just in time.   ;)

Offline AJFitzpatrick

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Re: No Afghanistan Dates to be Included on Nat'l War Memorial (Yet?)
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2011, 03:28:51 »
And the WWII and Korean War Dates didn't go on until the 1980s. 1982 to be precise ... so 37 and 29 years after.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 03:31:49 by AJFitzpatrick »

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: No Afghanistan Dates to be Included on Nat'l War Memorial (Yet?)
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 10:07:35 »
More on this, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/defence-department-scraps-plans-to-honour-afghanistan-veterans/article2165366/
Quote
Defence Department scraps plans to honour Afghanistan veterans

MURRAY BREWSTER
OTTAWA— The Canadian Press

Published Wednesday, Sep. 14, 2011

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,” Mr. 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.

Mr. 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.”

Mr. 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.


This leads to a painful discussion, one I am reluctant to even mention, but ...

The sacrifices of Afghanistan are the same as those made by past generations - neither more nor less worthy of commemoration. They are small in number for three reasons:

1. We have equipped our soldiers much, much better than was ever the case in the past;

2. We have better support, especially medical support, systems than ever in any past war; and

3. It is, after all, a "low intensity" operation. Yes, over 150 Canadians have been killed in action, died accidentally in the combat zone, died of wounds or died of other causes while in the combat zone or on leave from it - all over a 10 year time frame. The last time we deployed so few troops into a "shooting war" was in South Africa 110 years ago. About 7,500 soldiers were there - over a three year period - about 90 were killed in action, 135 died of disease. The numbers are, in a way, comparable.  I wonder if we will also add 1899-1902 to the National War Memorial?

Prof. Bland raises an important point. Despite the extensive publicity, the war is Afghanistan is not 'special,' except, perhaps in that it is being fought, in the main, by professional soldiers rather than boys fresh off the farm or factory floor (or unemployment line). We have a tendency to make heroes out of men and women who were just doing what they were trained and (comparatively) well paid to be doing. There has been more than one thread here bemoaning the (relative) lack gallantry awards but I would suggest that the reverse is true - my guess is that, based on the number of direct engagements with the enemy, more Canadians are being decorated than ever.

I certainly do not want to ignore this war, nor do I denigrate the sacrifices made by those who served and, especially, those who died, but I think we need to keep it in perspective - it is more like South Africa than, say, Korea, and it is quite unlike the First and Second World Wars. It needs to be remembered, ideally on the national War Memorial - but so does South Africa.

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Ditch

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Re: No Afghanistan Dates to be Included on Nat'l War Memorial (Yet?)
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 10:18:55 »
Excellent post Mr Campbell.
Per Ardua Ad Astra

Offline GAP

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Re: No Afghanistan Dates to be Included on Nat'l War Memorial (Yet?)
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 11:10:04 »
I agree....while it's closer to home re: time.....it needs to be put in prespective....
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I´m not so sure about the universe

Offline Pusser

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Re: No Afghanistan Dates to be Included on Nat'l War Memorial (Yet?)
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 13:12:27 »
There are a few other things to keep in mind:

1)  There are many memorials around for the South African War - Cartier Square in Ottawa and the grounds of the Legislature in Halifax are two that immediately come to mind, but I know there are others.  Most of these seem to have been paid for through private subscription (i.e. donations) vice public funds.  It's worth noting that the Canadian government of the day was not overly keen on participating in South Africa and so adopted the approach of allowing those who wanted to volunteer to go, but actual Canadian support was minimal.  There was no conscription and the British government paid most of the bill.  In contrast, although WWI may have started out as a British Imperial conflict, by the end, Canada had come into its own as a nation.  Perhaps this is reflected in the government's interest in monuments?

2)  The idea of having only one memorial in an area that honours all conflicts is relatively new.  Prior to WWI, most memorials seem to be conflict-specific.  If you look at most of the newer (i.e. starting with WWI) memorials and cenotaphs, they generally seem to have been originally designed for the Great War, but have since been added to.  I can't help but think that this was often done out of expediency and with cost savings in mind.  Remember that the generation that fought WWI was largely still (and in positions of authority) around during WWII and Korea.  Perhaps they thought, "Shucks, we only just built one.  Do we really need to build another?  Why don't we just add the latest war to the existing memorial?"  Anyone with a birthday close to Christmas understands this all too well.

Sure, apes read Nietzsche.  They just don't understand it.

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Re: No Afghanistan Dates to be Included on Nat'l War Memorial (Yet?)
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2011, 21:51:17 »
More grist for the mill to provide further context:
Quote
.... It took almost 20 years after the devastation of the Second World War for the federal government to design and erect the national war monument in Ottawa. The inclusion of that war as part of the monument didn't take place until 37 years after it ended.

The 26,971 Canadian soldiers who fought in the Korean War were ignored by both Canadian media and government until 1982 as well.

"At the end of the war, Canadians returned to a peaceful nation that almost seemed to be unaware of the conflict across the ocean that had taken 516 Canadian and hundreds of thousands of others' lives," Senator Yonah Martin, who has championed the cause of recognizing Korean War veterans, said recently.

"For decades, the media ignored it. For the most part, reference to the war was buried in archives to occasionally arise as a footnote to history and most frequently referred to as the Korean conflict."

Canadian war veterans have also raised concerns about the lack of recognition for those who died as part of NATO missions during the Cold War.

Defence academic Douglas Bland, a retired soldier who served during the Cold War, told The Canadian Press "hundreds, if not thousands" died during the decades-long stand off with the Soviet Union, yet there has never been a monument to them.

"There are cemeteries all over northern Germany and France full of Canadians killed in the service of the North Atlantic Alliance." ....
Andy Radia, Yahoo Political Points blog, 14 Sept 11
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

The words I share here are my own, not those of anyone else or anybody I may be affiliated with.

Tony Prudori
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House of Commons Unanimously Agrees to AFG Memorial
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 07:32:00 »
This motion was passed by the House yesterday:
Quote
Pursuant to Standing Order 93(1), the House proceeded to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion of Mr. Boughen (Palliser), seconded by Mr. Payne (Medicine Hat), — That, in the opinion of the House, the government should commit to honouring our Afghan veterans through a permanent memorial either at an existing or a new site in the National Capital Region, once all Canadian Armed Forces personnel return to Canada in 2014, and that the memorial remember (i) those who lost their lives and who were injured in the Afghanistan War, (ii) the contribution of our Canadian Armed Forces, diplomatic and aid personnel who defended Canada and its allies from the threat of terrorism, (iii) the contributions made by Canada to improving the lives of the Afghan people, and (iv) the hundreds of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who remain in a non-combat role in Afghanistan today, helping to train Afghan forces.
Here's the vote results from Hansard.
“The risk of insult is the price of clarity.” -- Roy H. Williams

The words I share here are my own, not those of anyone else or anybody I may be affiliated with.

Tony Prudori
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Offline MCG

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Re: House of Commons Unanimously Agrees to AFG Memorial
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 07:34:23 »
I would be more than happy to see something as simple as "Afghanistan" being added to the base of the National War Memorial.

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Re: House of Commons Unanimously Agrees to AFG Memorial
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2014, 14:32:57 »
I would be more than happy to see something as simple as "Afghanistan" being added to the base of the National War Memorial.
... and today this is exactly what happened.  The National War Memorial was rededicated with both the Afghan and Bore wars added.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/remembrance-day-draws-huge-crowds-as-national-war-memorial-rededicated-1.2831009


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Re: The National War Memorial and the Afghan Mission (and Boer War too)
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2014, 21:07:01 »
I think it fits well.  :salute:
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr