Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement to mark the return of the Canadian Armed Forces from the NATO training mission in Afghanistan during a ceremony in Ottawa:
“Today, I join all Canadians in welcoming home our men and women who are among the last members of the Canadian Armed Forces to return after serving Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Our troops demonstrated commitment, dedication and valour during the mission.
“To honour that exemplary service, I am very pleased to announce that May 9, 2014, has been declared a ’National Day of Honour’ by Royal Proclamation, in recognition and commemoration of Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan.
“Through this National Day, Canadians will have the opportunity to reflect on the courage and sacrifices made by our soldiers.
“Since October 2001, more than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces members have been deployed to Afghanistan to work with Allies and the Afghan Government to defeat terrorism as well as promote security, development, and governance so that Afghans can build a viable, stable, secure and better governed country.
“Our soldiers helped create an environment in which schools and dams could be built, and governance and judicial systems could be developed.
“Sadly, many Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice for these goals and many others were injured carrying out their duties. We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid.
“I would also like to extend special thanks to the families of those who served in Afghanistan. The mothers and fathers, wives, husbands, partners, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, family and friends who supported their loved ones during demanding deployments and who have sacrificed precious time with their family members so they could serve.
“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my deepest thanks to all those who served in Afghanistan with such distinction and honour, to protect our own freedom and the freedom of others.”