Friday, May 07, 2010

Saluting Our Warriors

Yesterday marked another painful day for Canadians as the body of Petty Officer 2nd Class Craig Blake returned home to Canada.

The 37-year-old father of two is the 143rd member of the Canadian Forces to die during the Afghanistan mission, but the numbers don’t diminish the sadness of this solemn event, or the sympathy we feel for Blake’s grief-stricken family.

Blake was the first Canadian sailor killed in Afghanistan, which lent an element of mourning to ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of Canada’s navy on Tuesday.

The centennial, plus the throngs who turned out in Holland Wednesday to honour and remember the Canadians who liberated their country from the Nazis in 1945, remind us of our nation’s proud history of stepping into the breach when the need arises.

Tomorrow, Saturday May 8, 2010 marks the celebration of VE-Day and 65 years after the end of the Second World War, our men and women in the Armed Forces are still putting their lives at risk for the cause of freedom.

The gratitude expressed by the Dutch people, who were starving and desperate when the Canadians marched in to save the day, is heartwarming.

That conflict, a clearly delineated fight between good and evil, stands in vivid contrast to the more nuanced battle our troops confront in Afghanistan.

Government corruption and a culture of religious oppression and gender discrimination pose a daunting challenge for our soldiers in their quest to bring peace and freedom to the people of that country.

These complexities make it difficult for some Canadians to lend their unwavering support to this mission.

They should try to imagine the plight of innocent Afghans and the impact to reconstruction efforts without the presence of our soldiers — who refuse to abandon the country to chaos and tyranny.

The death of Petty Officer Blake is a reminder of the price paid in blood and tears for this tenaciousness.

Questions may linger in the minds of Canadians about the complicated quest to bring peace to Afghanistan, but the dedication and sacrifice of those who serve there is unassailable.

Through our anguish and frustration, we must never lose sight of that.

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