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The Canadian Forces confirmed Thursday evening on Facebook that it had held a dedication service at the new Afghanistan Memorial Hall at the National Defence Headquarters (Carling) in the west end of Ottawa. But that happened three days earlier on May 13. “The event was attended by senior Canadian military leadership and Department management,” according to the Facebook posting.
No press release was issued. The decision was made by officials to keep the event quiet and only to release the news via Twitter and Facebook at a later date. Families of the fallen were not invited to the dedication ceremony.
No explanation has been provided for the decision to delay the announcement or limit the publicity, other than it was an official decision.
“The importance of this hall for the families of the Fallen, as well as Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence members, cannot be understated,” Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance noted in the Facebook posting. “We must maintain the memories of those who fell, and those who returned, from Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. We will remember them.”
“The Hall and the memorial are not open to the general public, but will be made accessible to families of the Fallen upon request,” according to the Canadian Forces Facebook posting.
The cenotaph at Kandahar airfield became a symbol for many Canadians of the losses during the Afghan war. Canadian Forces personnel and Afghan employees built it in 2006 and added to the monument over time. On the cenotaph are 190 plaques that honour Canadian Forces members who died as well as Foreign Affairs official Glyn Berry, Calgary Herald journalist Michelle Lang, and Marc Cyr, a civilian from a company under contract to the DND. Other plaques honour U.S. military personnel and a civilian member who died while serving under Canadian command.
In 2011 a military working group recommended the cenotaph be located on DND property at Dow’s Lake in Ottawa so it would be accessible to both families of the fallen and to the public who wanted to pay their respects. That recommendation, however, was overruled.
Some Afghan war veterans have worried that the conflict they fought in will be forgotten by Canadians.
(Photos from Canadian Forces Facebook showing Afghan memorial dedication ceremony were posted on May 16)
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019