Day of Honour for Afghanistan veterans marked in Calgary

Military veterans were honoured in Calgary today in one of several events across the country to mark the end of the 12-year mission in Afghanistan.

Mewata Armoury ceremony part of several events across Canada marking soldiers' sacrifices in 12-year mission

Soldiers stand during a ceremony to mark a National Day of Honour in Calgary. (CBC)

Military veterans were honoured in Calgary today in one of several events across the country to mark the end of the 12-year mission in Afghanistan. 

The biggest ceremony for the National Day of Honour took place on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, attended by Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Several hundred people came out for the Calgary event at the Mewata Armoury to remember the conflict that claimed the lives of 158 soldiers, a diplomat, journalist and two civilian contractors.

But some veterans say they have mixed feelings about the ceremonies.

Retired Sgt. Stan Burns, who is speaking at a small ceremony in Cochrane to mark the day, said the ceremonies in his view are for his fellow soldiers who didn’t fare as well as him.

Burns left the military in 2012 after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But he said he has received excellent care since then.

“I don't want any honour for myself. It’s about the guys who didn't make it back or the guys who came back different physically, I think, as opposed to the guys who came back mentally and emotionally different,” he said.

“Thankfully for me I don't ever remember any of my nightmares,” he said.

Burns also said while he likes the idea of a National Day of Honour, he believes the ceremony was rushed.

'Nothing but a publicity stunt'

Former veteran's ombudsman Pat Stogran agrees.

Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau and Calgary MPs Jason Kenney and Michelle Rempel attended the Calgary ceremony. (CBC)

“Purely speculation on my part, but I would say that it is nothing but a publicity stunt,” he said.

The retired colonel said he worries the ceremonies will not give Canada's Afghan vets the credit they deserve.

“It’s sad but it seems that the war of 1812 has a higher status in terms of its memorial and it gets more permanence on Parliament Hill than our Afghan conflict.”

Stogran said while he supports such events, he hopes Canada's newer veterans are not forgotten during future Remembrance Day ceremonies or when they turn to the government for help.

Hundreds of people came out for a ceremony at Calgary's Mewata Armoury on Friday to mark the National Day of Honour for veterans of Canada's mission to Afghanistan. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

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