Update: Two ceremonies honour contributions and sacrifices of Canadian troops in Afghanistan
A short ceremony, complete with the laying of a wreath at the Douglas Park cenotaph, was held on Friday afternoon as part of the National Day of Honour.
The Canadian government set aside the day to mark the contributions and sacrifices of the 40,000 Canadian troops who were deployed in Afghanistan, following the Sept. 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda attack on the United States. The Taliban government of Afghanistan had sheltered Al-Qaeda.
Two Langley soldiers, Master Cpl. Colin Bason and Pvt. Garrett Chidley, were among the 158 Canadians killed in action in the country, during the deployment of the Canadian military there from 2001 until 2014.
The final Canadian troops pulled out of Afghanistan earlier this year.
The event was held by the City of Langley and the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 21, with Langley MP Mark Warawa, the Langley City Fire Department, and members of both the armed forces and the public also in attendance.
“We couldn’t have done it over there, internationally, if we didn’t have the support back home,” said Lieut.-Col. Doug Poitras, the commanding officer of the Royal Westminster Regiment.
He spoke at the event and was accompanied by Warrant Officer Trevor Avey, of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
They represented the two regiments whose Langley members made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.
Master Cpl. Bason was a member of reserves with the Royal Westminster Regiment. He was killed on July 4, 2007. when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb.
Pte. Chidley died along with four others, including journalist Michelle Lang of the Calgary Herald, on Dec. 31, 2009. The armoured vehicle they were riding in struck an improvised explosive device (IED) in the Kandahar district, where most of the Canadians died.
Pte. Chidley, who graduated from Langley Secondary in 2006, was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
On Friday evening, another Day of Honour ceremony took place at the Walk to Remember plantation in the Derek Doubleday Arboretum, adjacent to Langley Airport.
Langley Township Councillor Steve Ferguson was master of ceremonies, and Langley Township firefighters served as a guard of honour around the memorial, which contains the names of all 158 soldiers killed in Afghanistan.
Trees to commemorate each one have been planted, as part of a project which got underway thanks to the initiative of Langley teens Elizabeth and Michael Pratt.
The teens’ father spoke at the event, as Elizabeth is now living in Calgary and Michael was sick and unable to attend.
The guard of honour, MP Warawa, and other attendees marched to the site from a parking lot off Fraser Highway, led by piper Joe McDonald.
At the Walk to Remember, four trees have also been planted in commemoration of the four civilians (including Ms. Lang) who were killed as part of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.
Warawa noted in his remarks that Canada is very proud of all who took part in the Afghan mission, and despite many setbacks, Afghanistan has improved as a result of Canadians being there for so long. In particular, he cited how girls are now able to get an education in most parts of the country. Under the Taliban rule, girls were not allowed to attend school.
He said the Afghan mission, the longest military engagement in Canadian history, will long be remembered in all parts of the country
— with files from Frank Bucholtz