In the Chronicle Herald and the Globe yesterday there was the expected outpouring of sentiment prepared months ago to herald the death in Afghanistan of the 100th soldier. Like Layton’s plans with the bloc for a coalition at a ripe moment, these stories, which could have been printed anytime, only awaited that trigger when Canadians are expected to be vulnerable and impressionable. 100. Imagine. We must feel despairing grief for these deaths, we are told, and press to cut our losses. Not to do so would be heartless. It sells papers.
It is left to a few voices like Christie Blatchford to put these 97 + 3 sacrifices in a different light:
Soldiers are in Kandahar doing what they signed up to do; almost every day, they see that their presence produces results, sometimes small, sometimes big; if losses are viewed in that context, then they may be understood. …The Canadian army is an intimately connected group, rather like a smallish town where if you don’t know every single person, usually you know someone else who does. Those bonds are only hardened and strengthened in war, so every death is widely felt and personal.
But none of that means soldiers are debilitated by losses, least of all shattered, as at least one TV reporter was glumly saying Friday. …
Throughout these purportedly quiet months, the wounded have been returning home – nine troops in one vehicle, coming back “banged up,” Gen. Natynczyk said, but still with fierce spirit, begging to be allowed to get on the next rotation. … All of them – the dead, the wounded, the widows, children, parents – deserve sympathy, respect for service and sacrifice that is beyond most of the rest of us, admiration. But pity? “Don’t pity us,” Gen. Natynczyk said. “We’re talking about tough young Canadians. Soldiers have pride.” [read the rest here]
I’ve never met a Canadian soldier who felt useless in Afghanistan.
And we have online bloggers like those at The Torch who continually remind us of the soldiers’ perspective which is not maudlin or defeatist, but brave and determined. We could do no better than follow their example.