War dead honoured across Canada, Afghanistan
Published Sunday, November 11, 2007 10:17PM EST
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 7:10PM EDT
The families of five Canadian soldiers took part in a Remembrance Day ceremony in Afghanistan, where their loved ones lost their lives.
At the cenothaph inside the Canadian compound at Kandahar Air Field, the families placed wreaths beside the names of the fallen soldiers. Canadian and Afghan soldiers stood at attention during the ceremony.
The families included those of Matthew Dinning, Kevin Dallaire, Christopher Reid, Jason Warren and Robert Girouard, who all perished in the war against the Taliban.
"He died here. His last breath was taken in this country," said Debbie Warren, the mother of Jason Warren.
"He gave his life for the people of this country."
At home, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean joined 30,000 people at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Sunday, where a moment of silence was held at 11 a.m. in remembrance of Canadian soldiers who have fought and died in armed conflicts.
Canadian flags flew at half-mast in Afghanistan as well, where the families of five Canadian soldiers killed in action arrived for Remembrance Day, attending a ceremony at Kandahar Air Field.
"Remembrance Day is a time to give thanks not only to our fallen soldiers, but also to give thanks to our serving members," Lincoln Dinning told the assembled troops Sunday while speaking on behalf of the five families.
"We know you're doing good work. We support you and the mission 100 per cent. Come home safe and, from our family to you and yours, a great big thank you."
Lincoln Dinning's son -- Cpl. Matthew Dinning, 23 -- was killed by a roadside bomb in April 2006, along with three other Canadian soldiers.
Addressing both Canadian soldiers around the world and the more than 2,000 serving in Afghanistan, Dinning said it was important for the mourning families to show their support.
As Canadian and Afghan army soldiers stood at attention, the family members laid wreaths at a memorial with the names and portraits of the 71 soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan.
- In Pictures: Remembrance Day in Kandahar, London and Ottawa
Families who had lost loved ones shed tears alongside many of the soldiers who had lost friends and comrades as well.
Angela Reid, whose son Christopher died in Afghanistan last year, said she had a "thirst" to learn more about her son's life while serving in the country.
In Ottawa, Gen. Rick Hillier said the families that travelled to Afghanistan told him they did so "to show support for what our men and women are doing and mark the place where our loved one was lost."
"This is no longer history," he told CTV Newsnet. "This is now, this is real. These are our men and women, our incredible national treasures that I believe serve our country so well. They are the veterans, they're serving Canada right now in a whole variety of ways."
Remembrance Day ceremonies
At 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in Canada, ceremonies across Canada pause in silence to remember the more than 115,000 Canadians who have given their lives fighting for freedom and peace.
An estimated crowd of 30,000 began gathering at Ottawa's National War Memorial early Sunday morning for Canada's largest Remembrance Day ceremony.
The governor-general laid the first wreath at the foot of the memorial. A stream of others followed, including Harper and Hillier, who stopped to salute as his wreath lay at the memorial's base.
This year's National Silver Cross Mother, Wilhelmina Beerenfenger-Koehler, from Embrun, Ont., represented the all the mothers who have lost children, at the Ottawa ceremony.
Her son, Cpl. Robbie Christopher Beerenfenger, was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2003.
"I'm very proud. I knew it was going to be a hard time - a lot of sadness - but I'm proud to be doing it," she told CTV's Question Period on representing the mothers.
Members of the Ottawa Children's Choir sang "O Canada'' while wearing matching red uniforms.
Shortly after, attending veterans marched past the memorial saluting the governor-general and prime minister.
In a statement released Sunday, Harper said it was important to pay tribute to Canada's veterans on Remembrance Day.
"It is the one way we can all repay the enormous debt we owe those who fought and died for Canada, the veterans who are still with us, and those who continue to serve so heroically today," he said.
After the ceremony, Liberal Leader Stephane Dion said Canada should be proud to be able to say that it is one of only a few nations that have never sent soldiers overseas for any reason other than to spread peace and democracy.
NDP Leader Jack Layton said the stunning turnout showed that people still had respect for veterans.
"I'm certainly thinking of my dad today, and the sacrifices that that generation made for all of us," he told CTV.
Several hundred people gathered in front of the downtown cenotaph in Halifax, N.S., where Silver Cross mother Charlotte Smith laid a wreath.
Her son, Private Nathan Lloyd Smith, was killed in a friendly fire incident Afghanistan in 2002.
Courtney Ingraham, a 10-year-old Grade 5 student, shook hands with veterans seated near the cenotaph. Her great-grandfather died during the Second World War.
She told CTV Atlantic that it was important to remember those who had sacrificed themselves to keep Canada safe.
Laurie Greenslade laid a wreath during a ceremony in Saint John, N.B., in honour of her son, David, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Easter Sunday.
"I know David would be proud of me for doing this," Greenslade said.
"I just say support the men and women that are over there, that they sacrifice everything to be there, and to support their families who are left behind. They are our national heroes," she told CTV's Question Period after the ceremony.
This was the first Remembrance Day for the Karigiannis family since Sergeant Christos Karigiannis died in Afghanistan last June. It's a painful reminder that Canadian war casualties no longer date back to the Second World War or Korea.
"I don't think any family really thought it would hit them," Karigiannis' brother Peter told CTV News from the ceremony in Montreal. "I don't think we really think anything's going to happen to us."
Just like in the early days of World War II, today's young veterans went to war because they felt they had to.
Private Lou Guimond, who served in Afghanistan told CTV News that he felt honoured to be at Sunday's ceremony.
"It's a privilege to be here with everybody that served before me in the wars," he said.
Toronto was a similar scene of a sea of faces, among them decorated veterans, assembled to pay tribute to fallen comrades, lost heroes and today's generation of troops.
Notes from "The Last Post" were played at ceremonies at Old City Hall, Queen's Park and smaller local gatherings across the city.
About 500 former soldiers who live at Warrior's Hall, a seniors' residence for veterans at Sunnybrook hospital, celebrated with a special commemoration.
Veterans gathered with their family and friends outside the cenotaph at Sunnybrook and watched as four Harvard aircraft from the Second World War flew over the hospital. On the fourth pass, they staged the missing man maneuver where one plane disappears.
"That man pulls up out of the formation and heads west going home and that's in honour of all those who didn't come home from all the wars," Charlie Rose, a veteran from the second world war, told CTV News.
On Saturday, a tribute to mark Canada's role in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles was held outside the Belgian village of Passchendaele.
The Battle of Passchendaele, which ended 90 years ago this weekend with the capture of a small village church, left 500,000 soldiers from Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand dead, wounded or missing.
Industry Minister Jim Prentice and his wife, Karen, attended the memorial in remembrance of his great-uncle Pte. Roy Urquhart, who fought and died in the Canadian offensive.
"It's our one big day of Remembrance, but as they often say, every day is Remembrance Day for those that have lost a loved one," Greg Thompson, Canada's veteran's affairs minister, told CTV News.
With reports from CTV's Tom Clark and Graham Richardson