In recognition of National Day of Honour

Mr. Silver:   I rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to Canada’s National Day of Honour. May 9 marks the National Day of Honour, a day to commemorate our men and women in uniform. The National Day of Honour is the first to recognize Canadian soldiers who fought in Canada’s Afghan mission and will be marked with ceremonies at Legions and war memorials across the country.

The last Canadian flag to fly in Afghanistan is currently being relayed from CFB Trenton to Ottawa, where it will be presented to the Prime Minister at tomorrow’s national ceremony at Parliament Hill.

The Soldier On Afghanistan Relay began on Sunday with a 19-member team, consisting of 16 members of the Canadian Armed Forces, two RCMP officers and one civilian government employee. All of the members of the relay team acquired injuries or illnesses, visual or non-visual, by serving Canada in Afghanistan. These brave men and women are running; they’re walking; and they’re wheeling the 290 kilometres to the route to pay tribute to those who provided the ultimate sacrifice and to also raise awareness and support programs for ill or injured military members.

Canada’s military role in the world has changed over the past generation. No longer are we the peacekeepers of Lester B. Pearson, but for the first time in 50 years, Canadian soldiers were asked to leave home in armed conflict. Though Canada’s role may have changed, one thing remains the same: Canada is a country that always punches above its weight. Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan officially ended on March 12, 2014, 12 years after it began. Since October 2001, more than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members were deployed to Afghanistan. One hundred fifty-eight military members lost their lives during the mission and many more have come back with severe injuries, both physical and mental.

Today, as we pause to reflect on those who served in Canada’s longest active military campaign, we think of those who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty and we give our hearts to those families whose lives have been forever altered.