Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Highway of Heroes

My brother, the ever eloquent, thoughtful and engaging soldier who wanted a fallen comrad to be honoured in memory when the papers were slaughtering his reputation. He spoke up and wrote to a newspaper (The Globe and Mail) and his comments were published in an article. That was the first time I heard him voice his opinion on Canada's perception of our involvement in the middle east.

The Canadian Military has lost 111 lives in Afghanistan. There will be more. Generally, the media picks up on the stories as they happen and tell about the lives of the soldiers lost and of their families trying to put back the pieces of their shattered lives. But Canada as a whole doesn’t know why our troops our are there. People are left feeling as though these losses of life were for naught. That does not do the memory of these fallen heroes justice. We must honour their memories by understanding why they were there and feeling pride and respect when we think of it.

If we stood back and idly watched what happened there, we would read about it in history much like we do the holocaust and question in anger why we didn’t help. But now, instead, people who hear someone on a political podium make a comment about how these deaths are senseless and that it isn’t our war – walk around repeating it like robots without knowing the whole story.

We are there because the people of Afghanistan have suffered indescribably and because we can help them change that. Because our troops can disarm land mines, build schools and help to hunt down and neutralize al-Qaeda members in that country, as well as toppling the Taliban regime, which has claimed to be supporting international terrorism.They can help the people there rebuild. They can help to give hope to people who have lived in fear and tried to carve out a life in a desolate place. In order that their children can laugh, and more mothers there can watch their children grow up. They are helping to exact a change that has been needed for a very long time. How can anyone think this is without merit?

Canadians generally group Iraq and Afghanistan into the same group and many protest against our inclusion in this war. They are two vastly different situations and though I too want my brother safe at home; I know that Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan is necessary. I believe in him and I believe in his mission. I am overwhelmingly proud of him.

I am outraged at Canada’s lack of education with respect to our involvement in Afghanistan. I believe that the responsibility should fall to the media and our government to convey the facts and inform our country. At least if we make the information available, there is the hope that each person who dares to speak their opinion takes the time to education themselves first. We owe it to our soldiers to understand why they are there and to be damn proud of them for it.

Soldiers have had to send home friends; Mother’s have had to accept the loss of their children; Wives have had to accept the fact that they will never have a chance to look their husband in the eye and tell them they love them; children will have to grow up seeing loved ones in a picture frame instead of having them there. The list goes on ad infinitum.

The least we could do is surround these families with the feeling that we know, we took the time to understand why their father, mother, brother or friend gave their life and that we salute them.

I know this isn't my usual style of writing - especially not here... but sometimes there is no funny. I can't make light of every situation. I just needed to get these thoughts out there. Thank you for making an exception to the norm and for considering what I have expressed...


Stace said...

Thanks for the insightful post. No need to apologise for not being funny - sometimes, as you say, there is no funny.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Elizabeth, for a thought provoking and worthwhile post. How you must ache for your brother to be home, how important to understand why he is away.


Ookami Snow said...

Well said

Bruce said...

Educating the masses is a never ending battle, especially when you have to compete with the likes of "The Bachelor" and "Dancing With the Stars".