Debate needed on the inclusion of Afghan mission on war memorial, Legion

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Legion says it will have to debate whether it supports adding Afghanistan to the National War Memorial.

Spokesman Bob Butt says it is a matter for the various Legion commands to decide and the subject has yet to be discussed among the organization’s 340,000 active members.

A proposal circulated around National Defence last year called for the word Afghanistan and the dates 2001-2011 to be added to the memorial that sits in the shadow of Parliament Hill.

The $2.1 million dollar plan included the addition of an eternal flame and a national commemoration ceremony.

But a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay says it would be inappropriate to commemorate Afghanistan right now because soldiers are still there on a training mission.

Butt initially indicated the Legion favoured revamping the memorial, however he says the matter is best debated among the members when the federal government has a specific proposal.

One concern of the Legion revolves around recognizing Afghanistan, while excluding those who died during the Cold War and on other missions since the Korean war.

Defence academic Douglas Bland, a retired soldier who served during the Cold War, says “hundreds, if not thousands” died during the decades-long stand off with the Soviet Union, yet there has never been a monument to them.

“There are cemeteries all over northern Germany and France full of Canadians killed in the service of the North Atlantic Alliance,” said Bland.

Organizations: Royal Canadian Legion, National Defence, North Atlantic Alliance

Geographic location: Afghanistan, OTTAWA, Soviet Union Northern Germany France

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