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Kandahar memorial to be rededicated in mid-August, this time with families of the fallen present

Photo issued on social media of the first dedication ceremony of the Kandahar memorial in mid-May. (Canadian Forces photo)
Photo issued on social media of the first dedication ceremony of the Kandahar memorial in mid-May. (Canadian Forces photo)

The Canadian Forces has started sending letters out to families of military personnel who died in Afghanistan as it prepares to rededicate the Kandahar memorial at its new headquarters in Ottawa.

The Canadian Forces decision in May to quietly dedicate the memorial without the families of the fallen present sparked outrage. Days later, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would get to the bottom on why families of soldiers who died in Afghanistan weren’t included in the dedication of the Afghanistan Memorial at the Department of National Defence headquarters at the former Nortel campus in west-end Ottawa. Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance eventually apologized for the military’s mishandling of the event.

The original May 13 dedication event was only for the top echelon of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces and included Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, deputy minister Jody Thomas and Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Vance.

No news release was issued about the event and the Canadian Forces decided only to publicize the dedication three days later and only on social media. No explanation has been provided for the decision to delay the announcement or limit the publicity, other than it was an official decision.

The new dedication ceremony is expected in mid-August. Letters to the families of the fallen are being sent out, a DND official said Tuesday.

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.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019


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