Coming Home

By John Paul Jarvis

Canada has been in Afghanistan for 7 years and soldiers are returning in flag draped caskets. Throughout Canada’s brief history, when England was at war, so was Canada.  We have always fared well.

 

We were combatants in the War of 1812, Boer War, WWl, WWll and Korea.  Our allies from the USA will grudgingly concede that British troops and Canadian militia burned Washington, including the White House in August of 1814.  The treaty of Ghent rendered the cessation of hostilities in December that same year.  Friends since.

 

Our 14th Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for authorship of the UN resolution creating an Emergency Force for Peace Keeping in world hotspots. Pearson crafted Canada’s foreign policy and was renowned for quiet diplomacy in resolving international disputes.  Even more significantly, these efforts at peace brokering were accompanied by a willingness to participate in UN peacekeeping missions providing military force.  This granted Canada autonomy, impartiality and newfound respect.  To date there have been 40 missions and 10,000 troops deployed.  These contributions afforded our small population recognition on the world stage and a solid reputation at the UN.

 

Canada is geographically besieged by the U.S. but disposed to our British heritage providing the nation with the model for government, civil infrastructure and a multicultural value system envied worldwide.  We are prosperous, owning most of the fresh water, oil, gold, lumber and natural resources existing on the planet and well below the world’s radar.  We still have the British Monarch on our currency.

 

In both World Wars Canadian troops became battle hardened alongside the Brits, typically at the front amongst the lunatic Scots bagpipers.  We maintain these pipers helped us sustain our sense of humor.  The Canadian Navy kept the North Sea open to merchant marine shipping for a famished Britain, while suffering crippling losses from U-boat torpedoes.  When WWII ended, Canada was the 4th largest military power in the world.

 

Currently, our Afghan fallen are ceremonially repatriated in a convoy of gleaming black hearses, traveling the identical route each trip, prominent on the busiest highway in Canada.  The 170 kilometer (112 mile) distance that the procession follows from Trenton to Toronto is officially renamed The Highway of Heroes.

 

At the time the initial Afghan casualty was returned home, Helen McGibbon stood on the Grafton highway overpass in eastern Ontario where her young daughter waved a flag as the motor procession passed. A grassroots tribute to bravery was born.

 

On every bridge and access point along the route, flag bearing Canadians gather to acknowledge the sacrifice of one of ours.  Thousands and thousands from all walks in all weather observe a silent vigil for each emotional homecoming.

 

This is all unstructured … other than by what your heart feels.

 





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