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Please join me in saluting our troops on May 9

By: Blake Richards

  |  Posted: Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 11:03 am

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The Canadian Flag was recently lowered at NATO’s International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul for the final time.

Since 2001, more than 40,000 of our soldiers have performed above and beyond the call of duty in Afghanistan.

The largest military force deployed by our country in a generation, these capable troops took on a leadership role, often marching into remote and dangerous regions hijacked by extremist warlords.

To defeat the pressing threat of terrorism, and to ensure the freedom of others to build a safer world, brave members of the Canadian Armed Forces were proud to take on the heavy lifting.

After defeating Taliban troops on the field of combat, Canada chose to remain in the line of fire, to provide security for our Afghan allies as they sought to rebuild their country.

Our troops stood resolute in the face of a deadly insurgent offensive against both military and civilian targets, giving Afghanistan a fighting chance to turn the page on decades of war. It is the first real opportunity for progress their country has seen in a generation, and it is a chance our Afghan friends will not let slip away.

According to a recent study, Afghan citizens gained 18 years of life expectancy over the span of a decade, largely due to improvements in maternal care. In 2001, one in four Afghan children died before their fifth birthday. This is rapidly improving, thanks in part to the efforts of Canadian and NATO soldiers.

Not only are these children surviving, but they now have the opportunity to attend school. In 2002, only 800,000 Afghan students were enrolled in primary education and the vast majority of them were boys. A decade later there are 8.2 million students, and 40 per cent of them are girls.

As a Member of the House of Commons committee on National Security, I believe this transformational change would never have been possible without the security provided by Canadian and NATO troops. Many of our nation’s finest men and women paid the ultimate price for this opportunity, and we must never forget their sacrifice.

On May 9, I ask that you join me in saluting our soldiers and their families during a National Day of Honour in recognition of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan.

Our soldiers’ bravery and selfless determination is a great source of pride for all Canadians. May it inspire us for many years to come.


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