Watch the video above: Saskatchewan marks national day of honour
DUNDURN Sask. – At 17 Wing Winnipeg Detachment Dundurn, young veterans list their months of service like regular dates on a calendar.
“I was there from February to August of 2006,” said Sgt. Mike Prefontaine.
“I spent 6 and a half months in Afghanistan in 2009,” voiced Master Corporal David Turcotte.
Both attended a ceremony for the National Day of Honour at CFAD Dundurn, 40 kilometers south of Saskatoon.
These Saskatchewan veterans and 40,000 others were part of the longest military engagement in Canadian history – fighting the Taliban and restoring peace for 12 years in Afghanistan. Today, May 9, 2014, The National Day of Honour, they’re being recognized locally and across the country.
With a large service on Parliament Hill to flags flying at half mast here at home, along with a synchronized moment of silence across the country, Prefontaine considers the service attended by about 100 people at Detachment Dundurn, a success.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I feel we’re very honoured in the public consciousness for the past decade or so.”
Governor General David Johnston spoke to the thousands gathered at Parliament Hill.
“The mission was highly complex and difficult and it cost a real human price,” said Johnston.
As part of the ceremony, the last Canadian flag to fly in Afghanistan was passed through communities by 18 ill and injured veterans before making its way to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who along with Johnston, accepted the flag on behalf of Canadians.
Over 12 years on the ground, 158 soldiers, two civilians, a journalist and two contractors never came home – families and loved ones will be forever impacted by the loss but those who’ve served say it made a difference.
“We had a lot of reconstruction teams going into remote parts of the country building schools, helping to establish irrigation, something they didn’t have,” said Prefontaine.
“We trained a lot of Afghan national army and national police to better position them to take care of themselves.”
Signifying the end of Canada’s mission in the war torn country, the royally-proclaimed National Day of Honour was a one time event.