Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fifteen Days and A Thousand Splendid Suns

Preparing to be with by my dear Dad's side at the hospital this week, I pondered which reading material to take with me so as to pass the time as I nervously sit (don't tell him that) in the waiting room.

After reading an article by Ian Elliot. I decided that I will have to make a stop enroute to my favourite bookstore to pick up Fifteen Days: Stories Of Bravery, Friendship, Life And Death From Inside The New Canadian Army, by Christie Blatchford ( ah yes- and on advise of a friend ->>and a peppermint hot chocolate while there.) The other, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, I need to finish first being it's on loan to me by friends (thank you Patty and Jane)

I'd like to share the article and book information with you:

Fifteen Days: Stories Of Bravery, Friendship, Life And Death From Inside The New Canadian Army Author: Christie Blatchford

Photo Credit: Michael Lea
Reporter profiles Canadian Forces troops serving in Afghanistan
Posted By Ian Elliot
Christie Blatchford is an unabashed champion of the Canadian Forces serving in Afghanistan, and wants the rest of the country to know where they are and what they have been tasked with doing.
Blatchford was in Kingston yesterday to meet with Royal Military College cadets and give a talk about her new book, Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death From Inside The New Canadian Army.
The title refers to the 15 significant days from her initial three tours as an embedded journalist for the Globe and Mail when significant events happened. They were usually the deaths of soldiers she had come to know in attacks. Those days, and their aftermath, make up the structure of her book.
The subtitle refers to the change, perhaps not in the military itself but in the public perception of it, as it engages in the first actual fighting war in more than a generation.
"I became the unofficial publicist for the army within five minutes of me being there for my first tour," Blatchford said in an interview at the college yesterday.
An unabashed supporter and friend of the young men and women she covered, Blatchford's book steers clear of the politics or the strategies of the Afghan mission, instead presenting a corporal's-eye view of life on the ground in a foreign and often hostile land.
Among the soldiers she profiles is Capt. Nicola Goddard, an RMC grad who was well-known around Kingston. Goddard was killed in Afghanistan last May and is described as a "smart, switched-on, charismatic young woman."
While undeniably sympathetic to the men and woman in uniform who surround her, Blatchford, who returns next spring for her fifth tour in Afghanistan, does not glorify them, nor does she let the book turn into a hagiography.
"I don't think I used the word 'heroic' or 'nobility' in the book - I tried not to exaggerate," she said. "I just wanted to write a book about the people who are doing the soldiering for us. The least we can do is know who these people are."
Blatchford, who lives in downtown Toronto, said she found it frustrating that many people there, and in other urban centres without a major military presence, seem oblivious to what the country's military is doing overseas - it was another reason she wanted to write the book. "It's true of a lot of urban areas, but particularly of Toronto," she said.

Christie Blatchford has been a high-profile Canadian journalist for over 25 years, with columns covering sports, lifestyle, current affairs, and crime. She started working for The Globe and Mail in 1972 while still studying at Ryerson, and has since worked for the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the National Post. She returned to The Globe and Mail in 2002. She is a winner of the National Newspaper Award for column writing.

Fifteen Days by Christie Blatchford
Published:October 9, 2007
Dimensions:400 Pages, 6.2 x 9.28 x 1.15 in
From the PublisherLong before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada’s most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter–these had already established her as a household name. But with her many reports from Afghanistan, and in dozens of interviews with the returned members …+ read moreLong before she made her first trip to Afghanistan as an embedded reporter for The Globe and Mail, Christie Blatchford was already one of Canada’s most respected and eagerly read journalists. Her vivid prose, her unmistakable voice, her ability to connect emotionally with her subjects and readers, her hard-won and hard-nosed skills as a reporter–these had already established her as a household name. But with her many reports from Afghanistan, and in dozens of interviews with the returned members of the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and others back at home, she found the subject she was born to tackle. Her reporting of the conflict and her deeply empathetic observations of the men and women who wear the maple leaf are words for the ages, fit to stand alongside the nation’s best writing on war.It is a testament to Christie Blatchford’s skills and integrity that along with the admiration of her readers, she won the respect and trust of the soldiers. They share breathtakingly honest accounts of their desire to serve, their willingness to confront fear and danger in the battlefield, their loyalty towards each other and the heartbreak occasioned by the loss of one of their own. Grounded in insights gained over the course of three trips to Afghanistan in 2006, and drawing on hundreds of hours of interviews not only with the servicemen and -women with whom she shared so much, but with their commanders and family members as well, Christie Blatchford creates a detailed, complex and deeply affecting picture of military life in the twenty-first century.


A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
After more than two years on the bestseller lists and over four million copies in print, Khaled Hosseini returns with a beautiful, riveting, and haunting novel of enormous contemporary relevance.

Published:May 22, 2007
Dimensions:384 Pages, 6.5 x 9.5 x 1.25 in

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years—from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding—that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives—the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness—are inextricable from the history playing out around them. Propelled by the same storytelling instinct that made The Kite Runner a beloved classic, A Thousand Splendid Suns is at once a remarkable chronicle of three decades of Afghan history and a deeply moving account of family and friendship. It is a striking, heart-wrenching novel of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love—a stunning accomplishment.

About the Author:

Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. His first novel, The Kite Runner, was an international bestseller, published in thirty-six countries. In 2006 he received a humanitarian award from the United Nations Refugee Agency and was named a U.S. goodwill envoy to that agency. He lives in northern California.


What DOES SEARS Kitchener Support?


Well, a week ago I had the opportunity to walk through the Sears Store in Kitchener again to see if anything has changed with the placement of the Support Our Troops merchandise. If you recall, the last time, it was obscured by the placement of a men's underwear display.

Well this time.. giving hope and holding my breath I rounded the familiar corner to the men's wear department.

Well.. the underwear was moved, but now sharing the "pillar space" with t-shirts and hats (embroidered with the yellow ribbon - waiting to be worn in support of our troops working through all elements and dangers overseas) were....... SIMPSONS TSHIRTS! - DUFF BEER T-SHIRTS. Cartoons - a joke!

However, I as a military mom and friend to soldiers and their families - I'm not laughing. I do not believe that the seriousness of the mission and of our soldiers should be taken lightly.

To Sears Kitchener, the Support Our Troops Merchandise is a novelty, a promotional item. However, to Military Families and friends, this is taken seriously, especially in the light of our many wounded and fallen soldiers and many sons, daughters, family members and friends that are serving from that region.

Oh. And the display - it was difficult to get to. Why? It was blocked from the aisle by a table of sweaters. Sears Kitchener, if you're supporting our troops, please show us (military families) by at least showing it through your display. At least dedicate a whole quarter of the pillar to our troops.

My pen is ready for combat.

The Soldier Bear

The Story of "Soldier Bear"
Soldier Bear comes all the way from Nova Scotia to help the children and families of the Canadian Forces personnel deployed to Afghanistan. Soldier Bear was created by Fred Herman, a Veteran to the forces, to show his appreciation of the contribution of the men and women who are serving our country and others.
For only $20.00 Soldier Bear can be purchased at most MFRC's across Canada,Irving Oil Locations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland which include Irving Big Stops, Irving Mainways and Irving Blue Canoe outlets,The Military Family Resource Centres in Halifax, Moncton, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Canadian Forces Base Shilo, Canadian Forces base Winnipeg, Canadian Forces Base Moose Jaw and Canadian Forces Base Edmonton.The Hudson Group outlets at the Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport, Calgary International Airport and Vancouver International Airport,Also available at CANEX outlets at Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, Canadian Forces Base Halifax, Canadian Forces Base Shearwater and Canadian Forces Base Stadacona, Halifax. The Soldier Bear can also be purchased from inventor "Fred Herman" by the following means of contact:

Email: afganteddybear@eastlink.ca
Residence: 1-902-883-6607
Cell Number: 1-902-488-9269 or
Fax: 1-902-883-1067
I have one and it is the softest bears I ever held-what a comfort!- - and he's dressed in desert cadpat!
Shown here: Fred Herman inventor of "Soldier" and Honorable Peter MacKay, Minister of Defense for Canada
About Fred Herman: After serving for 33 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, Herman later followed that career within the Military environment for an additional 10 years. During his lengthly career, he was a multi-decorated Canadian Forces Peacekeeper. He then decided to seek out other opportunities to contribute to society and escape the possibility of boredom during his retirement years.
Upon retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces/Military environment, Herman joined the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires in Nova Scotia and was assigned duties at the Halifax International Airport (recently renamed the Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport) where he was employed on security duties. His duties at the airport have been very enlightening while his tasks have varied considerably as all assigned tasks are driven by requirement.
At one point, Herman was assigned the task of escorting a fallen comrade who was being returned from Afghanistan for burial in his home province of Newfoundland. This, to Fred Herman, was an honour and an extremely important and touching task which brought back memories of his Peacekeeping duties in war-torn countries such as Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus, Syria and Egypt to him. After completing his missions in these troubled countries he appreciated the fact that he returned safely and unscathed to Canada. Although it was an honour to represent our marvellous country of Canada, Herman says he must admit that there were many times during these missions that fear of his personal safety and that of his fellow soldiers were of great concern. As he carried out my duties of escorting the fallen comrade, his heart was full of sorrow and sympathy for the soldier's family. During this ceremony Herman had the opportunity to speak with some of the soldiers present and recalling his own experiences, he was inspired to do something to contribute and show appreciation for their efforts in trying to make this particular country a better place for all residents.
After much thought and consideration Fred Herman settled for the idea of creating and producing a small Teddy Bear to represent the present day Canadian Soldier now serving in Afghanistan. After a considerable amount of artwork, many prototypes and nine months later, "Soldier" the Teddy Bear, pictured here was born.
Following the birth of "Soldier" Herman set out to secure an agency to support his efforts as well as having support for the Canadian Forces in their mission in Afghanistan. That agency was the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) with an office in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The staff at this centre was inspired by Herman's project and he committed himself to contribute a portion of the proceeds from the sale of "Soldier" to all Military Family Resource Centers across Canada who participate in the sale of "Soldier" as a fundraiser for their MFRC. These centres all across Canada provide tremendous support for families of our soldiers serving in Afghanistan as well as other war-torn counties.
Herman now contributes funds every six months to the MFRC's who are participating in this endeavour of fundraising for their particular MFRC.
Herman is dedicated to this venture and promises to pursue every avenue open to him to make it a success. This precious little item, "Soldier", represents our Canadian Forces personnel deployed in Afghanistan.
A BIG HUA to Fred Herman!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Teary Morning

Today in the classroom during O Canada, I had noticed one of my students had stopped singing. He then lowered his head for a couple of moments. Upon lifting his head and he made a sign of the cross using his pointer finger. Looking up, he continued on singing the National Anthem to the end. After the music stopped and the rest of the students sat down, this little boy came to me and said: "I was praying for the soldiers that were killed in the war."

They Are Home

The mournful strains of Amazing Grace mingled with traffic noise at a sombre repatriation ceremony Tuesday, November 20th, 2007 to honour the latest victims of Canada’s military effort to bring order to Afghanistan. With dignitaries and family on hand, the flag-draped coffins of Quebec-based Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamp, 28, and Pte. Michel Levesque, 25, were lowered from a military transport to waiting hearses.

"He will never cease to live among us and in our hearts," Levesque’s family said. "He will always be a hero to us."

Above: Military pallbearers carry the caskets of Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamps and Pte. Michel Levesque Jr. who were killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, during a repatriation ceremony at Canadian Forces base Trenton, Ontario, Tuesday November 20, 2007. Photo credit: Fred Chartrand

Beauchamp’s spouse, Cpl. Dolores Crampton, a medical technician based with the same unit, accompanied his body back to Canada. Crampton laid flowers on his coffin before returning to stand with Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier on the windswept runway. Also on hand was Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean and about 100 members of the public, who pressed against the fence that circles the base to watch the ceremony.
ABOVE: Chief of National Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hiller stands
with Cpl. Dolores Crampton, wife of Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamp.
Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand
"Nicolas was strong, generous, proud and convinced that he could make a difference in this world," the Beauchamp family said.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Industry Minister Jim Prentice bow their heads along with other Members of Parliament for a moment of silence in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Tuesday (Photo Credit: Tom Hanson)

Supporters were seen along overpasses of the Highway of Heroes, a section of the TransCanada Highway renamed in honour of Canada's fallen soldiers, as the hearses made their way to Toronto .

Veterans from the Trenton, Ontario area drape flags from an overpass as the motorcade carrying the caskets of Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamps and Pte. Michel Levesque Jr. drives by on the Highway of Heroes. (Photo Credit: Fred Chartrand)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Repatriation Itinerary in CFB Trenton

Our fallen soldiers, Corporal Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 28, 5e Ambulance de campagne, and Private Michel Levesque, 25, 3e Bataillon, Royal 22e Regiment, both were based out of Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, Quebec, are tenatively scheduled to return home to Canada tomorrow (Tuesday November 20th, 2007) - to be confirmed by CFB Trenton.

Where: 8 Wing Trenton, Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario.
When: Tuesday November 20, 3:00 p.m.

Present to pay their respects will be Her Excellency, the Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, The Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, the Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and other dignitaries.

After the repatriation at CFB Trenton... tentatively at 4:00 pm, a motorcade carrying the soldiers will travel the Highway of Heroes from Trenton to Toronto. it has become the custom for people to line the overpass bridges along the route to honour the soldiers and their families.

The Oshawa Navy Club plans to form an honour guard at the Harmony Road overpass in Oshawa while Whitby-Oshawa MP Jim Flaherty is organizing a bridge tribute at the Brock Street overpass in Whitby.

Welcome them home and honour our soldiers along our Highway of Heroes
(401 West from Trenton to Toronto)

Ramp Ceremony in Afghanistan

Hundreds of soldiers attended a twilight ramp ceremony Sunday at Kandahar airfield to pay tribute to two Canadian soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 28, and Pte. Michel Levesque, 25, were riding in a light armoured vehicle that drove over a large improvised explosive device early Saturday.
The blast, 40 kilometres west of Kandahar, also claimed the life of an Afghan interpreter and injured three Canadian soldiers.

The flag-draped casket of Cpl. Beauchamp of the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier, Que., was carried by his fellow medics to a waiting Hercules transport plane to take him on his journey home. Photo: Cpl Simon Duchesne

Photo: Cpl Simon Duchesne

Cpl. Dolores Crampton (common law wife of Cpl. Nicolas Beauchamp) walks behind the casket of her husband. She carried his beret as she walked behind the coffin and later boarded the plane with him for the long journey home.

Photo: Cpl Simon Duchesne

The flag draped casket of Pte. Lévesque, of Quebec's Royal 22nd Regiment at Valcartier is carried by his fellow comrades to an awaiting Hercules plane to bring him home to an 18-year-old pregnant fiancée in Rivière-Rouge, a small village north of the Laurentians. Just last week, the young couple became engaged while Levesque was on a two-week leave.
Photo: Cpl Simon Duchesne
They are coming home. Bless Pte. Levesque and Cpl. Beauchamp and their families - their military families still serving over seas and their families awaiting their arrival home. They shall be remembered always.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Military Families Fund

Illustration credit: David Craig

On t.v. lately there have been announcements from the military in regards to the Military Families Fund. Personally I have served on the "deployment as a Military Mom" continuing constant support of our troops - yet wondering and worrying, yes many tears, feeling afraid, however keeping my chin up and always looking to my son with pride and always being here for him... and for other families. I know soon, I will be on this " deployment mission" again. (I know many local and national military families are and have always been here supporting our troops through rallies, letters, banners, yellow ribbon campaigns, endless care packages, .. and LOTS of love. Now the soldiers have turned to help us.) Today, I thought I'd provide details for you about the Military Families Fund. Thank you to our Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier for initiating this fund and our wonderful soldiers and CFPSA for supporting us - your military families.

The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier, in recognition of the outpouring of support from Canadians, announced the creation of the Military Families Fund. This fund will grow through the generous contributions of Canadians, corporations and other organizations, adding a new vehicle to support Canadian Forces members and their families.

"When our families call out for help, we must be able to answer that call immediately and substantially. Our families have been here for us through our enrolment, our training, our deployments, and our homecomings. The military life places significant demands on our loved ones. They did not volunteer for service – but serve they do, and with great distinction. It is our turn to be there for our families.” General Rick Hillier Chief of the Defence Staff.

The Military Families Fund (MFF) is an agile and responsive means for Base and Wing Commanders, in concert with Military Family Resource Centers (MFRC) across the country, to help military families within hours of being advised of need. It will help with short-term emergencies and also provide long-term support. The MFF allows CF leadership to meet the special-case needs of CF members and their families with speed and flexibility not always available through the traditional programs.

The MFF enhances and complements, it does not replace, existing public and non-public programs. The Fund fills the gaps by providing for the unforeseen and often immediate needs that families may have due to conditions of service .

The MFF allows for several areas of support by way of interest-free loan or grants, including rehabilitation, education, financial assistance in the case of injury or death of a CF member due to service, and urgent and extraordinary financial demands where the ability to provide family necessities is at risk.

Contributions can be made either:

On-line: https://www.cfpsa.com/en/corporate/mfamily/contributions/default.aspx

By Mail - make cheque or money order payable to:
CFCF - Military Families Fund
c/o Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency
4210 Labelle Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0K2

By calling: 1-877-445-6444

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION VISIT: http://www.militaryfamiliesfund.ca/

Saturday, November 17, 2007

2 NATO Soldiers and Interpreter Killed

Two soldiers of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and their interpreter were killed Saturday morning in southern Afghanistan when their vehicle was caught in an improvised explosive devices explosion, said an ISAF statement.
A further three soldiers were also injured in the same incident who are currently undergoing treatment at an ISAF medical facility, the statement added.
In accordance with ISAF policy, ISAF does not release the casualty's nationality prior to the relevant national authority doing so.
Some 55,000 foreign troops are being deployed in the war-torn Afghanistan for keeping security and fighting terrorism.

Bless all our NATO soldiers and and their families.

UPDATED (11 am):
Two Canadian Soldiers Killed:
Cpl. Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp of the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier
(28 yrs of age)
To view or sign the guestbook for the family of Cpl Beauchamp,
Pte. Michel Levesque of the Royal 22nd (25 yrs old)
To view or sign the guestbook for the family of Pte Levesque,

Their Afghan interpreter were killed and three other soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb attack in Kandahar province early today. The soldiers were traveling in a Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) when it struck a landmine on a road near Bazar-e Panjwaii, west of Kandahar City. The three soldiers wounded in the attack were transported to hospital at Kandahar Air Field. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening, a Canadian Forces official said. “ISAF troops contend with the threat of (bomb) strikes on a daily basis, but our soldiers continue to improve the security situation and make a very real and positive difference to the lives of normal hardworking Afghan people,” said Wing Commander Antony McCord, a spokesman for Regional Command South. “Our thoughts at this time are with the families and friends of those who have been killed or injured in today’s incident,” he said in the ISAF statement. Today, a series of clashes in southern Afghanistan left 33 suspected Taliban militants dead, while a suicide bomber in the east wounded a NATO soldier, officials said. At least four police officers also died in the fighting. Twenty-three Taliban militants were killed during a U.S.-led coalition operation aimed at disrupting a weapons transfer in southern Afghanistan, the coalition said today. A truck apparently full of Taliban weapons exploded during the operation in Helmand province’s Garmsir district. The coalition said it didn’t known what triggered the explosion. Coalition troops detained 11 people suspected of being part of a weapons running operation. Elsewhere in Kandahar province, Canadian and Afghan troops battled militants in the Zhari district today, leaving at least 10 suspected militants dead, according to provincial police chief Sayed Agha Saqeb. Authorities recovered the bodies of four of the dead militants alongside their weapons and ammunition, Saqeb said. There were no casualties among the Canadian and Afghan troops. In a separate attack yesterday, one Afghan civilian was killed and two others injured when a suicide bomber on a motorbike ignited against a passing ISAF convoy in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar province. The ISAF vehicle was badly damaged but only one ISAF service member sustained minor injuries. “Once again we have an incident in which Afghan civilians end up suffering from Taliban extremists using indiscriminate weapons,” said Brig.-Gen. Carlos Branco, an ISAF spokesman. “Eighty per cent of the victims of Taliban suicide bombings are civilians."

Statement by the Minister of National Defence on the Deaths of Two Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan
The Honourable Peter Gordon MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, issued the following statement today on the death of two Canadian soldiers and one Afghan interpreter and the wounding of three soldiers:"I am deeply saddened by the loss of Corporal Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp and Private Michel Jr. Levesque, who died yesterday in Afghanistan. I would like to extend my condolences to their families and friends during this very difficult time. I also wish a quick recovery for the other Canadian soldiers injured in this incident.My sympathies also go out to the family and friends of an Afghan interpreter who lost his life in this incident. This courageous Afghan national gave his life in support of the mission to help Afghanistan achieve peace, stability and the hope for a better future.These soldiers were participating in a joint operation to further stabilize the Panjwayi district, west of Kandahar City. These soldiers were in Afghanistan to help bring back hope to a population that has seen much hardship and turmoil.Canada is in Afghanistan at the request of the democratically elected government, and as part of a UN-sanctioned mission to help build a stable, democratic, and self-sufficient society. Rebuilding schools, hospitals, and roads as well as training Afghan security forces cannot occur in an unstable environment. Our Canadian Forces members are playing a key role in this NATO-led mission, helping improve the security situation in order to create the conditions necessary for Afghans to live normal lives.We will remain forever grateful for the sacrifice of these brave soldiers, and we are all saddened by the loss of these exceptional Canadians."

Message from Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaelle Jean, Governor General of Canada:
My husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, and I were deeply saddened to learn of the recent deaths of two soldiers Corporal Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp, 5e Ambulance de campagne, and Private Michel Jr. Levesque, 3e Bataillon, Royal 22e Regiment, both based out of Valcartier, Quebec, as well as the death of an Afghan interpreter, west of Kandahar, in Afghanistan.Our thoughts are with their families, friends and loved ones, whose anguish, suffering and distress are unimaginable. We also extend our wishes for courage and a prompt recovery to those injured in this tragedy.These soldiers and their comrades went to Afghanistan with confidence in the importance of their mission: to rebuild this war-torn country, and to restore and maintain peace for its people. They offered up the very best of themselves, right to the end. We will never forget them.Michaelle Jean
Corporal Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp was member of 5e Ambulance de campagne and Private Michel Jr Levesque was members of 3e Bataillon of Royal 22e Regiment, based out of Valcartier Quebec.
Statement by the Honourable Stéphane Dion, Leader of the Opposition:
I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Corporal Nicolas Raymond Beauchamp of the 5th Field Ambulance in Valcartier and Private Michel Lévesque of Quebec’s Royal 22nd Regiment, killed in Afghanistan this morning. This immense tragedy drives home the very real perils that members of the Canadian Forces face every day, as they risk their lives to create a safer and more secure world for the people of Afghanistan. Members of the Liberal Party of Canada and our Parliamentary Caucus join me in expressing our most heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and comrades of these brave Canadians as they cope with this tremendous loss. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the family and friends of the Afghan interpreter who also died in the attack, as well as the three other soldiers who were wounded.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Remembering Our Soldiers November 11th, 2007

It was an chilly and overcast day in Waterloo this day, although our hearts were warm. In the background, one could hear drums and the sound of soldiers' boots hitting the pavement as they marched in unison.
Waterloo photos by: Military Mom
Some soldiers dressed in green fatigues and others dressed sharply in their dress uniforms (many with glistening ISAF medals adorned on their chests - Canada's own Veterans - returned from their rotation in Afghanistan) - boots highly polished marched towards Waterloo's cenotaph.

Amidst the group were Waterloo Region Police Officers, RCMP officers, Cadets.. and yes .. our Veterans from Canada's other wars and peacekeeping missions -a walking history - some arrived with the assistance of canes, walkers or scooters. The crowd, proud of our troops past and present, applauding them with tears as they passed. The sun broke through the skies above the auburn leaves in the trees as the Waterloo Cenotaph service began with an invocation by Padre Bernie Hayes. Such an eloquent speaker easily touching our hearts. Prayers were said for our Veterans, our soldiers and families. This was followed by the Waterloo regional police band playing O Canada and the playing of the Last Lament by Adam Annandale. Sniffles and tears were easily had as each reflected on this day. Some were parents of soldiers currently serving overseas. This is a very emotional day for these parents as well as parents of our fallen soldiers. My heart goes out to them.

100 wreaths were laid this day in honour of our soldiers. The wreath for "Soldiers in Afghanistan" was laid by Cpl. Sugrim and Cpl. Hunt. (Both returning Vets from Afghanistan. It's a true honour to know these gentlemen.)

Many, many people - soldiers, firefighters, cadets, Veterans participated during this Remembrance Ceremony. Truly amazing seeing the diversity of those we honour this day and always. Many veterans, wearing uniforms and service medals, watched from the comfort of the rail car as prayers were said, a two-minute silence observed and 100 wreaths honouring Canada's war dead were laid at the cenotaph. Other veterans stood with the crowd or sat on their scooters. Many chatted with children about their war experiences. Waterloo's was one of several Remembrance Day services in the region. Services were held at cenotaphs in Kitchener, Preston, Hespeler and Galt.
A Veteran is seen saluting as serving and returning soldiers and are seen in the background.

At the end of the services, soldiers "fall out" and march towards and along King Street in Waterloo accompanied by applause of appreciation of many people attending the Remembrance Day Ceremony in Waterloo.

Lest we forget... yes lest we forget.

Seen here (front centre) is Cpl Lock of 31 Combat Engineer Regiment (The Elgins) - a returning Veteran having served in Afghanistan.

Following the parade, soldiers met with fellow comrades - veterans, young and old - a chance to catch up with each other or a chance to live history through their eyes.
To our soldiers, I say: "Thank You. You shall always be remembered."

In Waterloo, Krebs (Ali Baba) Steakhouse served free steak to the Veterans. Thank you to the Staff at Krebs for honouring our soldiers.

In CAMBRIDGE, more than 1,000 people ringed Queen's Square for Remembrance Day services at the Galt cenotaph. It was easily the largest turnout for the service in recent years.
The throng was up to five people deep around the 300 participants in the ceremonies, including the Royal Highland Fusiliers militia unit.
Photo by: Richard Lock
Wreath of "Soldiers in Afghanistan" being laid by parents of returned Afghan Veteran.

Photo by: John Prno

Photo by: Richard Lock

The Preston Legion donated this wreath for Soldiers in Afghanistan saying: "there will be a wreath for them until they all come home".

Photo by: Richard Lock

Grey clouds gave way to warm sunshine as the crowd offered sustained applause to soldiers, three bands and Galt legion members as they marched across the Main Street bridge to end the service.

Photo by: John Prno

Then dozens of people stepped forward into Queen's Square for a closer look at a new memorial installed this year. It's intended to honour soldiers from Cambridge who died on peacekeeping duties since 1954, or in the Vietnam War.

Photo seen here placed in Ottawa of Graham Private Mark Anthony Graham, a member of 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario. He died Monday September 4th, 2006 in a friendly fire incident. (Our prayers are with all the families of our Fallen Soldiers)
Clockwise from top left: Silver Cross Mother Claire Léger (second left) is flanked by husband Richard and Governor General Michaëlle Jean; poppies are placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; two veterans remember in silence.

On a disappointing note, I had read a poll on Friday in The Record (newspaper website) that recorded 60 per cent of respondents saying they would not observe the day.
As Herbert V. Prochnow said: "A great many people mistake opinions for thoughts."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Thank Our Veterans

Thank you Anita and Rita for sending this my way. It's a very powerful piece. Bless all our Veterans (in Canada, the U.S. - worldwide)

It is the VETERAN , not the preacher,
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the VETERAN , not the reporter,
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN , not the poet,
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN , not the campus organizer,
Who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is the VETERAN , not the lawyer,
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the VETERAN , not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the VETERAN ,
Who salutes the Flag,

It is the veteran ,
Who serves under the Flag,


Photo credit: Chris Wattie, Reuters