by Lucie Roy
Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Ethell, Premier Alison Redford, Education Minister and Ministerial Liaison to the Canadian Armed Forces Jeff Johnson, and Member of Parliament Laurie Hawn attended a special event at Guthrie School Wednesday morning to honour the end of Canada’s military service in Afghanistan. Similar events took place Wednesday at Town Hall and local schools.
Morinville Public Elementary School, Notre Dame, Georges H. Primeau and Morinville Community High School took part in recognizing the last day of Canada’s service in Afghanistan, as did Legal School and Ecole Citadelle in Legal.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Premier Alison Redford said “The story of Canada’s role in Afghanistan is one of service and sacrifice. It is made up of personal commitments, the dedication of families, and a collective desire to make the world a better place.
“It is a moment to celebrate as we welcome home our returning soldiers. But we must also remember those that did not make it back. We must honour their sacrifice in our own way; using the freedom they fought for and died protecting.
Local students did not miss the opportunity to acknowledge that sacrifice.
Legal School student Hollye McMullen held a photo of her uncle, Master Corporal Erin Doyle, who lost his life while serving in Afghanistan on August 11, 2008. Hollye and Seth McMullen raised the flag in memory of their uncle. The ceremony included a prayer, video and readings performed by students. In the school’s assembly, Legal School Principal Raymonde Roulston said more than 45,000 Canadians took part in the mission, and 162 people from all walks of life made the ultimate sacrifice. Forty-six of those Canadians were either from Alberta or stationed in Alberta when they were deployed.
At George’s H. Primeau School students had an opportunity to view and reflect upon a set of large picture boards displaying the name and photo of the Canadian solders who lost their lives serving in Afghanistan, learning of their sacrifice, the mission and the role that Canada played.
Ecole Notre Dame School was another of the many to mark the end of Canada’s mission to Afghanistan Wednesday morning. In addition to lowering the flag to half-mast, the assembly included a talk from Ted Peacock, who served two tours in Afghanistan.
Morinville Community High School took part in the recognition with the lowering of the flag to half-mast and subsequent raising to full-mast at noon today. “Prayers were said at the site and on the PA system, along with presentations to classes on the participation and sacrifice of Canadians,” said Principal Todd Eistetter.
The Town of Morinville also took part in the lowering and raising of the flag and will also extinguish the Light of Peace in St. Jean Baptiste Park on Mar. 18, the date when the last troops come home. The light was lit in the park in June 0f 2010 and was to remain on until the conclusion of the mission and the return of the troops.
Whith the military mission in Afghanistan at an end, the Canadian military presence in that country will have lasted as long as Canadian military involvement in the First World War, the Second World War and Korean War combined. “This conclusion of contributions is especially significant for our Grade 12 graduates who have known no other foreign military contribution by Canada than Afghanistan,” said Legal School Principal Raymonde Roulston during that school’s assembly Wednesday. “9/11 occurred when they were in Kindergarten and the withdrawal of troops in their 12th year of school.”