Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean has presented new medals to Canadians killed or wounded while serving with military missions.


Ben Walsh of Regina accepts a medal on behalf of his son, Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh. ((CBC))

Of the first 46 Sacrifice Medals, 21 were awarded posthumously to honour Canadian Forces personnel who lost their lives. Most were killed during tours in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk watched at Ottawa's Rideau Hall as Jean presented one of the medals to the family of Glyn Berry, a diplomat killed in a car bombing near Kandahar in 2006.

The governor general said she saw many familiar faces at the inaugural medal ceremony, people she had met on the tarmac at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, where military aircraft return home with the bodies of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

"Many of you have shared your pain with me," Jean said. "You also proudly told me about loved ones you lost in Afghanistan and know that Canadians share this pain and this pride with you. You are not alone. Those of you who are wounded also are not alone. We know the price you have paid."

Harper later thanked the recipients for fighting for the "values and way of life that triumphed on this day in 1989," a reference to the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.

Another medal was accepted by Ben Walsh on behalf of his son, Master Cpl. Jeffrey Walsh, who died in an accidental shooting in Afghanistan.

The medal was originally to be awarded only to those killed or wounded by hostile action, but Ben Walsh persuaded authorities to change the rules to anyone killed while in military service.