Saturday, May 10, 2014

Day of Honour

Considering that 9 May was declared National Day of Honour to give Canadians the opportunity to show support for their troops, I thought I'd throw my beret in the ring.

Whether you agree with the military missions that Canada has participated in (not the choice of the soldiers by the way), it is important to realize why our military has value in our society and what they do for us besides go to war.

We have always been and will continue to be a nation of peacekeepers. Canada has a strong tradition going into foreign countries and helping to stop warring sides from obliterating each other.

But more importantly, our military also perform the following duties:

  • They defend Canada
  • They patrol the oceans and our far north to exercise our sovereignty
  • They participate in counter-smuggling operations
  • They assist the public in times of floods, forest fires, power outages and other natural disasters
  • They can evacuate people from areas of extreme danger
  • They can provide humanitarian assistance and emergency response in the form of medical aide and clean water anywhere in the world
  • They provide security to protect high profile events like the Olympics
  • They look for signs of illegal fishing and activity
  • They participate in avalanche control
  • They perform search and rescue anywhere in the country (remember the plane that crashed in Alert?)
  • They seek out pirates and terrorists on the high seas
  • We also (this came as news to me) defend Iceland

Our soldiers perform their duties selflessly, often being away from their families for months at a time, again and again. The things they have seen have broken their hearts and injured their souls, if not affected them psychologically for life. Yet their support structure is not the best and they are expected to carry on. And they do carry on. Canadian soldiers are ranked as one of the best trained forces in the world and we have won many peace-time competitions against opponents who on paper should have beat us mercilessly. Our battle honours have earned us the greatest respect.

Our women and men in uniform deserve to get paid as much as a politician, yet some families are so poor, they have to rely on food banks to survive. Don't even get me started about their pensions.

I was there in the blackout triangle in Quebec during the ice storms of 1998, patrolling neighbourhoods to make sure they were doing alright and were safe. The residents of southern Quebec could not believe that the Army had come from across the country to help them with a smile.

I served my country for 20 years and it was the most challenging, productive and proudest part of my life. I made friends that I cherish like brothers and sisters to this day and who would give the shirt off their backs in a time of need.

Your soldiers give their souls and their lives to serve the well-being of our country and our society and they deserve your love and respect.

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