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Rosie DiManno: Canada’s new Afghan war memorial is kept under lock and key. Strange way of honouring fallen soldiers

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What if you died for your country and nobody remembered?

Or if strangers wished to lay a wreath, pay their respects, but couldn’t?

Last Thursday, eight years after Canadian troops bugged out of Kandahar, a dedication service was held at the new Afghanistan Memorial Hall at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

No family members of the fallen were present. They weren’t invited. The public wasn’t welcome. Media didn’t even receive a press release.

Indeed, disclosure of the event wasn’t made until the following day, first via Twitter and later on Facebook.

Officials claim the intent was to keep the ceremony low-key. But why? Because this smacked more of secrecy than subdued commemoration.

Canada suffered 159 military casualties in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2011, most of those deaths during the troop deployment which began in 2006, Canada part of the UN-led combat battle group. Seven civilians were also killed, including Calgary Herald journalist Michelle Lang and Foreign Affairs diplomat Glyn Berry.

At the Kandahar Airfield, as an embedded reporter, I attended several — too many — solemn repatriation ceremonies, at dusk, in the late night hours, where coffins were loaded into the belly of a CF-130, to be flown home.

Behind the Canadian military administration building at the base, a cenotaph was erected on which, over time, 190 black granite plaques were added, honouring Canadian Forces members and others who died as the mission ground on. Military brass routinely held press conferences nearby. Soldier-colleagues of the fallen — even, on........

© Toronto Star