Twelve years ago I stood in Point Pleasant Park in Halifax and watched Canadian navy vessels make their way out of the harbor on their way to respond to the war in Afghanistan. I was with then 17-year-old daughter Jocelyn who wondered why we were sending the navy to a war in a land-locked nation. Good question.
Yesterday the Canadian flag came down in Kabul marking the end of our military presence in Afghanistan. More than 150 Canadians died there, and the casualty list of those who have died by suicide after their return swells that figure. Thousands more have suffered significant psychological damage. We spent billions of dollars to fight a war with an ambiguous goal, but our government is now penny-pinching when it comes to supporting our veterans. Canadians stood on highway overpasses to honour the bodies of the repatriated dead, but we don't know how to honour the living.
And Afghanistan? Corruption is rampant, the current government slags the foreign troops who fought there, and the Taliban is the wolf waiting at the door. All those programs for education and women? Will they actually endanger participants if religious extremists take over?
I am biased. I hate war. I hate that we laud our troops when it suits our purposes and toss them in the gutter when they return. War kills people, destroys souls and rarely achieves its objectives.
We should all pray for the returning contingent of military personnel. We should pray that our veterans find solace and practical support, and not forget their sacrifice. We should pray for the people of Afghanistan. We should pray that someday we will realize the futility of war and listen to the Prince of Peace.
What are your thoughts about the end of this mission? Should we be indignant about the treatment of our veterans?