Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To Say Goodbye

Beth Berger is a photographer as well as an aspiring film and music video director.

Beth was born and raised in Wyoming, later moving to Alaska and then to Montana to pursue her education in the photographic arts.

Beth is a graduate of Rocky Mountain School of Photography and is currently attending the Nashville Film Institute. With her recent relocation to Franklin Tennessee, Beth’s dream of living, working and becoming a part of the Nashville community is one step closer to reality!

You can check out Beth's website at http://bethbergerphotography.com/

Follow @bethbphoto

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Faces by Dan Gray

My name is Dan Gray I currently reside in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. I have been writing poems in support of our troops and in support of remembering their sacrifices for about 15 years now. I do it to give voices to situations and soldiers that no longer have the opportunity to do it for themselves and to give people a outlet to say things that they may not know how to say. Like many of my friends, this is to thank the soldiers who put their lives on the line for our freedom.

Dan Gray

Dan's poems will be featured monthly on this site if you would like to contact him please click the link above.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Portraits Of Honour

Like most Canadians, Ontario’s Dave Sopha has watched the media reports of our Canadian Forces’ activities in Afghanistan. He, like so many others, has been heartbroken each time we learn of the loss of life of another Canadian soldier, sailor or aircrew.

Each of these news reports took a toll on Sopha but on December 5, 2008 it became too much. It was on this date that three soldiers, Warrant Officer Robert Wilson, Pte. Demetrios Diplaros, Cpl. Mark McLaren, all from 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, were killed by an IED.

Pte. Diplaros’ death brought the number of Canadian troops killed in the Afghan war to 100.
Sopha is an accomplished artist. He’s also a proud member of one of Canada’s most prestigious service clubs:

 Kin Canada. At that moment in time, Sopha decided to combine his love for community service with his passion for painting and made the conscious decision to dedicate the next two years of his life to honouring every fallen soldier, sailor or aircrew through a mural he called Portraits of Honour.

Dave shares his vision and thoughts in the following video:

The Portraits of Honour National Tour provided Canadians from coast to coast with an opportunity to honour and celebrate our Canadian soldiers, pay respect to those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice and to recognize the challenges that face those who will return home with lasting physical or emotional injuries.

I made a video walkthrough of the Portraits of Honour for those unable to see it in person.

Most Influential People List

So every now and then you’ll see a Barbara Walters special about top 100 influential people or a People story with the same theme. I wanted to do a blog about the most influential people I’ve met and have in my life and through all my Support our troops sites that I run. So here it is the “Dave Murphy (Thankasoldier) Most influential people list and people I’m thankful for. (In no particular order)

My Parents – Two of the most loving giving people you will ever meet in your life. My parents are retired Salvation Army Officers and dedicated 30+ years of their lives to helping others. I’m not the most religious person in the world but I feel being brought to church up until the age of 15 installed some great values in my life and obviously being around the giving rubbed off in me in a positive way. I love them dearly and am so grateful for them. Also my brother and sister being there to no matter what.

Our servicemen & women – I have been lucky enough to meet hundreds of our troops Canadian, British, and USA soldiers so far. I’ve met veterans who served in WW2, men and women who have done 3 to 4 tours of Afghanistan. A Medic who treated injured soldiers you name it. When I meet them they say “Thanks” for running the groups I do and such but I’m humbled and honored to hear that. Thank You to each and every one of you for your service in so many ways.

Barry Green - They say when you are going through life you will have one teacher or instructor who will make a positive influence in your life and you will never forget. I wanted to tell you about Barry Green. When I lived in Newfoundland and was doing a business adminstration program Barry was my instructor for several classes. He was funny, did impressions to get the point across and there was one saying he had that I live by every day.

He spoke about “The Tiger & The Rose” and in order to be successful in life you have to be as fierce as a Tiger but as gentle as a rose. I try and live by this still and it has been something that has stuck with me since even though that was almost ten years ago.For me the tiger and the rose is when people look at me they see this big guy who’s 6’3 and 250lbs but on the inside I’m probably the kindest person you’d ever meet.

General Rick Hillier – A few months ago I was lucky enough to meet General Hillier and hear him speak about oursoldiers, families and things in general. I have never been so captivated by listening to someone speak. Every soldier I have ever spoken with have spoken so highly of him and when I got to meet him and shake his hand, I was quick to understand why.

Kay Kennedy – Another influential person in my life, she is one of the strongest women I have ever met in my life. She is the first military related person I met almost 3.5 years ago and the mother of fallen Canadian soldier Pte Kevin Kennedy. Every tribute video I have made she pops online to chat as soon as its done and has been there a lot of the downs of my site like when it was hacked and shut down and has simply said amazing things to me that keeps me going.

Julian Austin – A Canadian country singer who wrote the song “The Red & White” which inspired the Thankasoldier.net cause and page and I have never met someone in my life with a stronger passion for our troops and supporting them.
The Red Friday Ladies – Karen Boire and Lisa Miller – The pioneers of Red Fridays in Canada. I have never come across two women with such a passion for supporting our military as these two ladies. thi is not a charity it a movement that has taken on a whole new meaning by itself.

MCpl Elton Adams – A brave soldier who I was introduced to through Kay Kennedy, when I first heard his song“What A Soldier Left behind” and heard that he wrote his whole album while on tour in Afghanistan the words blow my mind. Elton will be doing a live show on the 28th of December and I can’t wait to meet him in person, shake his hand and hear him perform live.

Angelina Phillips – A Gold star mother in the USA, the first person I met through my Thankasoldier.net site south of the border. She lost her son in Iraq and is also a strong woman. From her and all the families of the fallen I’ve met online and in person I’ve learned to take nothing for granted and it makes me appreciate my family so much more.

Cpl Jodi Mitic – Jodi lost both his legs due to a IED in Afghanistan and to this day he hasn’t quit. He has run in many events such a loops for troops and is one of the strongest people I have met. Jodi also helps me by yelling at me and telling me to go to the gym, hahah and when I look at what he’s been through it makes me feel pretty lazy and usually works. You can follow him on Twitter @Jmitic and view more about his story on You Tube

Kelly G – A non military related person but a great friend. She is one of the funniest people I have ever met and if you haven’t heard of her you should look her up onYouTube she is lifting the world one person at a time. If I’m ever in a bad mood which isn’t that often I have a look on her videos to see what she is up to

Kevin Mcharg & Liz Jackson - The founder of Hero to Hero USA Lisa Miller and Kevin who runs Hero to Hero Team Canada are two amazing people also who put their heart and souls in to what they do.

Every Military Family member I have met - It’s hard to post these individually obviously but The Family of Chad Horn and Mike Seggie two best friends who lost their lives in Afghanistan since they were KIA I have become very close with both families and attended Pte Chad Horns funeral. Being there at a military funeral for the first time I can’t even put in to words but his entire family and the Seggie families are an amazing group of people.

The 3 guys who Stabbed me in Ottawa - You might look at that and think huh? but In 1994 I was jumped by three guys in Ottawa Ontario and stabbed twice in my leg and several times on my back. One of the wounds on my back punctured my lung, one missed my heart by a inch and the two on my leg have left me with no nerves in my upper left thigh. This day changed me for the rest of my life, I had so many physical dreams and goals that were halted when that happened but mentally it made me stronger than ever. Ever since that day I have always done random acts of kindness and attempted to do what I could with my second chance. Long before the Tim Hortons
for our troops started, I used to go around to Fire Halls and bring them coffee and donuts once a week and thats where it all began for me. So every time I talk about it now I look at it like that and it took me awhile to get to this point but honestly, when I look back on it, was the best thing that ever happened to me.

4.1 Million Members of my Thank A Soldier cause page and Facebook groups – This is a group shout out to every single person who is involved with Thank a soldier. Those who share the stories, thoughts, pictures and videos, without all of them my group would be a one person group and obviously not very interesting.

Carson Daly, Collective Soul and Chris Cornell - Ok so three celebrities made the list but rightfully so. They all do so much to support our troops and I thought deserved a shout out. Carson is involved with supporting the troops on Twitter and did one of his shows from a base in the states and suited up with the US ARMY for an entire show. I have had the pleasure of talking to these people via Twitter and who would have thought that a few years ago lol
So here is my Influential people list so far, I’ll keep adding to it as I keep meeting more and more people.
Thank You

Songs from the front lines - MCpl Elton Adams


MCpl Elton Adams was born and raised in Roddickton, Newfoundland, Canada. At the age of seventeen Elton Adam enrolled inthe Canadian Forces. During his first six years was employed with the First Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Shilo Manitoba. While serving with this Regiment worked in both B and C batteries and ventured to Bosnia on Roto 7. It was also at this time hestarted to write his own music.

While with the Artillery he played and sang for the troops all of the time. In Bosnia his band, “Guns and Hose’s”(this was our band name because the Artillery had the big-guns and we practiced in a Fire hall—hose’s) opened up for the CANCON show. Domestically, he had a band called, Dirty Laundry and performed for almost all of the Regiments functions, private parties, and local bars.HPIM0190

he has served his country for over eight years and a Military Police-Officer based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With only two years in the Military police trade received notification that he was to embark on a seven month tour to Afghanistan. Further, he would need to complete 8-months of work-up training in Edmonton before the tour began.

One of the songs Elton wrote, “What a Soldier Left Behind” was heard by his supervisors and the response was extremely positive. It lead to performing at our farewell parade on January 17th 2008. There were over 2000 personnel present for the parade, both soldiers and their families. The song became and is still growing into a big hit amongst the Canadian Forces community. Elton was presented with my Colonel and General’s commendation for the song.

On March 20th 2008, I performed, “What a Soldier Left Behind”, in Afghanistan with Canada’s beloved rock band, Blue Rodeo, at our “support the troops” concert, again the response was incredible. Elton received General Hillier’s, (our retired Chief of Defence Staff) commendation and I received many thank-you’s from my fellow soldiers, civilian employees and retired NHL Players (Doug Gilmour sent me a signed jersey) who were present at the show. It was unforgettable. Now that I’m back from Afghanistan I have finished recording my first album at Denmark Productions and I have just signed a major deal with music distribution company Matchbox Recordings. Matchbox Recordings will be releasing my album in the UK on March 2, 2009. ” - Elton Adams

I’ve had many requests for the lyrics for this song so I have added them to the above YouTube video.

I was talking with Kay Kennedy one night online and she had said to me “Dave have you heard the song What a soldier left behind” at the time I hadn’t but thought I would go check it out. I did right away and the words hit me very hard as I have met many family members of fallen soldiers and see how this song would affect them if they heard it. I contacted Elton on Facebook and asked him if I could feature the video on my Thankasoldier.net web page and he gave me permisson to do so. It is now the video people see when they first visit the site. I have since became good friends with Elton and want to help him get his music out there.

Don Cherry Protesters

a newly formed Vancouver-based group called Hockey Fans for Peace are hoping to challenge Don Cherry to a debate over his promotion of militarism during his Coaches Corner segment on CBCs Hockey Night in Canada.

This Saturday, the group is planning to kick start the process by rallying outside the CBCs broadcast of the Vancouver Canucks game against the Detroit Red Wings at Rogers Arena in Vancouver to show that hockey fans have a right to speak out against Canada's involvement in the Afghanistan war.

The groups spokesman Kimball Cariou said the group wants CBC to either stop allowing Cherry to continue using his segment to promote the war or else allow one of its members to debate him during his own segment.

But CBC spokesman Jeff Keay doesn’t agree that Cherry is promoting the war in Afghanistan and militarism every week on Coach’s Corner.

“I mean, Don does offer remembrances of soldiers who are killed as well as police officers and firefighters that are casualties,” said Keay. “We really don’t have a problem with that.”

Kaey said he also doesn’t foresee allowing anyone to challenge Cherry’s views on the war in Afghanistan.

“I wouldn’t say that’s a forum for that kind of debate, so I really don’t see that happening.”

When I first heard of this group I was angry but then I thought to myself, our veterans gave us all freedom of speech so these people do have the right to speak out if they wish. I was reminded of when a Parent Teacher Association board that voted against school children being allowed to send letters to troops as that promoted the war.

Having watched hockey for as long as I can remember including Coaches Corner you can tell how much he cares about our men and women serving and when we sadly lose a soldier overseas he'll take the last few seconds of his weekly broadcast to show their photo and send out his thoughts to the soldiers family.

I posted a Facebook status about this and will share a few comments from friends:

"We as a people must be on constant guard of our right to free speech for without it we would not know who the a**holes are. I have looked at the site Hockey Fans For Peace and that was a total waste of my time, but thank God they have the right to do what they do!!!!!" - Ken A.

"As someone from Vancouver and Serving in Afghanistan, this guy makes me sick. I met Don Cherry when he was here on Christmas and I wasnt a huge fan of him before but after talking with him, I have found a new respect for him. Kimball is allowed to have his opinions but he should get his facts straight first" -Chris M.

"It takes a truly ignorant person to not distinguish the difference between Supporting our Troops and propagating in favour of war. Its painfully obvious to any normal thinking person. You support the troops because they are away from their families and homes, fighting a war for their country and those they leave behind. You want them to know they are appreciated and missed and in our thoughts... I dont see how that can be misinterpreted as right wing pro war propaganda." - Tony D.

I think Don Cherry is a great supporter of our men and women serving all over the world and I hope he continues to do what he does best.

The Gratitude Project

In March 2010 we released a series of videos of group members showing support to our men and women in uniform by holding "Thank You" signs and putting them all together in a series of YouTube videos.

Gene Has always been a great supporter of our troops and I remember watching a press conference when he was a race marshal at a race in Edmonton where he sent the following message to Canadian Troops.
“Hi guys, it’s Gene Simmons. We know you’re in Afghanistan, we know it’s a tough one, I just want you to know from my heart we love you. I like the fact that there’s a bit of civility when the Canadian flag goes up and your national anthem is sung, everybody quietens down a bit. You don’t have to salute, no one’s forcing you to do anything, but just for a few minutes you shut your mouth and give it the respect it demands. I think that’s part of our lives that’s been tossed aside. Culture has become cynical and we don’t even respect what we should.” – Gene Simmons from Toronto Star
“Thanks to who his wife Shannon Tweed who I met on Twitter, I showed her The Gratitude Project video and she assure me she would show gene. A few days later I were so amazing to see gene saluting with a “Thank You” Sign” = Dave Murphy Creator of Thankasoldier.net
This week The Gratitude Project was also featured on the maximum fighting home page, which is very similar to The UFC in the states and we are very happy to have them on board.

This is Tori a Golden retriever who used to do therapy visits at the Walter Reed hopstial and she attended the 9/11 Memorial deication in 2008. I have been receiving lots of photos of peoples pets with signs but this one takes the cake so far.

Click each photo to watch on YouTube:

Click to watch Part One

Click to watch Part Two

Click to watch Part Three

Click to watch Part Four

Links to Check Out

Artists & Performers:

MCpl Elton Adams: http://www.eltonadams.com

Joelle http://www.justjoelle.com

Alisa Yardley: Face Book Page

Lexxi Saal http://lexxiloves.org/

Missing Andy : http://www.myspace.com/missingandy

JC Van Luyen : http://www.youtube.com/user/jcvanluyn

Niki Barr Band: http://www.nikibarr.com/

SexStone: http://www.myspace.com/sexstonerocks

Saul Band: http://www.myspace.com/saulband

DeathnTaxes: http://www.myspace.com/deathntaxes

Cory Cruise : Facebook page

Autumn Arson Band: http://www.myspace.com/autumnarsonband

Toni Lynne Cousineau : http://www.myspace.com/littletonilynne

Mary Lynn Neil : http://www.youtube.com/user/triquetraharmony

Thank You also to :




Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed

Jake Rademacher from BROTHERSATWAR MOVIE

MOST OF ALL, Thank you to every single person who took the time to

Military Art Work - By Sarah B.

Sarah B. the wife of a Canadian soldier in Ontario Canada draws amazing photos of our soldiers. She does them as tributes for fallen soldiers families and has also done many photos for friends of hers that serve.

She runs a Face Book group called“Soldiers of Petawawa Tribute Art Project” which started as a tribute to soldiers out of CFB Petawawa but now has changed to include tributes to our fallen heroes

” I started in two years ago hoping to honour the men and women of the base, but now my focus has shifted to individuals who have given their lives and others who have made an impact and should be remembered. However I am still hoping my project will be do-able”

Here work is simply amazing and I wanted to share it on here.
Tribute to a fallen Canadian Hero MCpl Allan Stewart 

Other artwork done by Sarah:

This is Sarah's most recent photo also drawn for the family of a fallen soldier.

Current member of the Canadian Forces with RCR2

A member of the Canadian Forces serving with 3RCR

Sarah's husband currently serving with the Canadian Forces

Please do not use these photos without permission from Sarah you can email her for more information. 

The Highway Of Heroes

On August 24th, 2007 the stretch of highway from Trenton, Ontario to Toronto, Ontario was renamed The Highway Of Heroes. Before this stretch of highway was renamed, normal civilians, veterans, soldiers, friends and family would line the overpasses from Trenton to Toronto and pay our respects to our fallen heroes. I personally was able to attend four of these processions when I lived in Ontario and it is truly something that has to be experienced first hand to put in to words. Sometimes it was in -20 Celsius temperatures but you think to yourself these men and women go through so much more the least we can do is stand in cold temperatures to give them our thoughts and prayers as they take the drive to their final resting place.

"As a very proud Canadian, it warms my heart that so many other Canadians take time out of their busy lives to stand and salute as our fallen soldiers are taken to their final resting places. It is truly a show of appreciation and respect for those brave men and women. I salute all soldiers, present and past."- Chris Stevens, Toronto

"All I can truly say, at a time where our family was at our lowest, and feeling completely lost, we felt some warmth and uplifting feeling. WE could not believe the courtesy everyone was giving out of respect for Prescott. There were so many signs and flags of Saskatchewan riders, and UK flags. It was amazing. We were truly uplifted. We cried. We were so proud of Canadians, that came out to see and support the troops even the fallen ones. I remember his son asking "Why are all those people standing on the bridges?" We said, "to honor your daddy, because he was a true hero, then he said, oh, but if he was a hero, why didn't anyone save him and bring him home. We said he is home, but he is watching over you, like your own personal guardian angel." -Samantha Shipway Beausoleil Sister of fallen hero Sgt Prescott Shipway KIA Sept 7th, 2008

"As a former infantry soldier I cant believe the patriotism shared by the people who line route 401 otherwise coined "Highway of Heroes" it is amazing to see the support for our boys and girls, mothers and fathers aunts and uncles brothers and sisters nephews and nieces and cousins for putting their safety on the line for our security every day."-Nigel Pritchard, frmr Cal High Calgary, AB

"What a remarkable feeling it was despite the circumstances, my family went on that trip and it was awesome to see all the support out there, And I know Brian was watching and he would of loved all the same"-Steve Good, Brother of Fallen Hero Trooper Brian Richard Good KIA January 7th, 2009 while serving his country in Afghanistan
Canadian Recording artists "The Trews" wrote a song about The Highway Of Heroes

Remembering CPL Nathan Hornburg

Corporal Nathan Hornburg

Our Son and Brother, Nathan Hornburg, represented the best of all of us. He represented what all Canadians should strive to be. As a boy, he was happy growing up in the neighbourhood of Glamorgan in Calgary, and was greatly influenced by the Calgary Waldorf School philosophy of rhythm, reverence, and ritual. But as much as he loved growing up in Calgary, he also loved the land, and was often found spending time with his extended family in Nanton, Alberta, a place to which he felt deeply connected, and in which he became a son to a second community.

Nathan approached life with enthusiasm. As a young man, he never failed to express a strong sense of fair play, leadership, and curiosity. He was well respected by all who knew him, because he was a true friend, always finding the positive in any situation, always offering his strength when the strength of others was failing. In a way, he was the rock people knew they could depend on, that we knew we could depend on. Nathan was his father’s best friend, and the best son and brother a person could be. Nathan was a leader of men. He never shrunk from responsibility, no matter how difficult the call. In a way, that’s why he chose to join the Canadian Forces, to serve with the King’s Own Calgary Regiment, and in the end, to go to Afghanistan. He had a warrior’s heart, never afraid to lead from the front, and encourage those behind him to be brave in the face of adversity.

The fact that Nathan volunteered to go to Afghanistan, and the way in which he did so, were characteristic of Nathan’s approach to life, and any major decision. He evaluated the facts, did extensive research on the subject, looked at the decision from all angles, and then decided using both his heart and mind. Nathan decided to go to that country fully informed and aware of the danger. He went because he felt it was right, and that he could help those in need. He went to support his fellow troops and friends, he went because his country asked him to, and he went because he felt, from the bottom of his heart, that it was the right thing to do.

Before he left, Nathan told his mother that he loved his life, and regardless of outcomes, he would have no regrets. As a family, it would break our hearts to know that the future of the mission in Afghanistan may be determined by un-informed reaction and political opportunism, rather than by the studied measure of logic and wisdom. Nathan’s death had purpose. He made a difference. He protected the weak, and stood shoulder to shoulder with warriors to fight tyranny, to help those who needed it, and to defend the values that Canadians hold dear.

Being a soldier was only one aspect of Nathan’s life, but bravery and thoughtfulness existed in all aspects of his life. In the end, what Canadians need to know about Nathan is that he was a man of character, a man of purpose, a leader of men, a warrior, a student of the world, and the best of all of us. We remember him, and hope his legacy will encourage us all to be better than we are. -Michael Hornburg - Proud father of CPL Nathan Hornburg

Cpl Hornburg was killed during operations in Afghanistan on Monday, September 24th, 2007. Cpl Hornburg was attached to the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) based in Edmonton as the driver of a Leopard Armoured Recovery Vehicle (ARV). He was working on replacing the track on a Leopard tank that had lost its track. Cpl Hornburg was the only soldier of the King's Own to be killed during operations in Afghanistan. He is the first member of the Regiment to fall in combat since WW II.

Nathans Father Michael is very involved in the Loops for troops which had its first run last year. this years event will be in june and you can find out more information on it by visting the Running Room's website

The Running Room - Loops for Troops

"I have met with Michael Hornburg several times and he has shared many stories about Nathan and what an amazing young man he was. I have told Michael that I will help him with the loops for troops event and do whatever i can with it. Thank you for sharing your memories of Nathan and am proud to know you"
-Dave Murphy

The War in Afghanistan BY Melissa Garrison

A major topic that I hear about most often is the War in Afghanistan. Should we be there? A large majority say no, but are they really that informed? I honestly don’t think so. I am coming from the perspective of a family member of a soldier. I have seen information that is there for the public, but is behind what is on the front page. You have to do a little digging to find it. I am offering contradictory information on the most used points. Why we are there, the progress that has been made, the point of view of the Afghanis, and soldiers, who the Taliban are, and more in-depth information. Most of this information is buried deep where it is harder to find. Putting this information out there is important, because if people are not informed about what they are dealing with than they are liable to make mistakes that could compromise lives.

The first thing that should be addressed is why we are there. There are different opinions depending on who you talk to. The first, more factual reason, is because of the NATO treaty; “an attack against any one of them is an attack on all.” This is the mutual aid pact that involves all the members of the United Nations. The 9/11 attack on the USA by Al Qaeda was what started it and is the main reason for us being there. The more moral reasons for us being there is to give women and children rights, which they had before the Taliban took over, freedom, which they also used to have, stopping torture and public execution, and right to have access to information. They are also working on a major drug problem. Opium that is grown in Afghanistan is actually where the majority of it is grown. Crop areas are all over Afghanistan and Soldiers are trying to convince farmers to turn their drug farms into wheat farms. This proves to be difficult when the public is so ruled by fear when most of their drug lords are either a member of the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Canada is also building a relationship with the people, contrary to popular belief that the people of Afghanistan hate us and want us gone. Most of the Soldiers know why we are there, like Major Brent Purcell who when asked why we were in Afghanistan replied, “To prevent terrorism from spreading and to bring security and development to Afghanistan.” These soldiers know why we are there, and they believe in the mission. “Radical Islam has already demonstrated that they know no boundaries regarding who they kill, or who they will use to kill. They will escalate the violence at every opportunity, and the more potent the weapons they can get their hands on the more likely they are to use them. Our being in Afghanistan is not only trying to help the failed state, it is keeping radical Islam occupied and focused there,” says Noel Dykes, a retired Artillery officer of 35 years. This mission is important, the danger is real and it will not just go away if we ignore it.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan in 1996. Before they took over Afghanistan was nowhere near as brutal as it is now. Woman’s rights for one, was not much of an issue, nor did it need to be. Girls were allowed to attend not only grade school but also University. Women used to be allowed to work, especially in Kabul, the Capital city. At Kabul University, 50% of students were girls, and 60% of teachers were women. Of all school teachers in Kabul, 70% were women. As for two other important jobs in Kabul, 50% of women were civilian government workers and 40% were doctors. Kabul was also the first place that the Taliban took over. They went in and took away all women’s rights. Forced them to cover themselves completely, forbid them to go outside the home without their husband escort, and took away all of their basic human rights. They could not go to see a doctor most of the time and when they could they had to sit with a hanging sheet separating them. Many women died of curable deceases because of this. If they showed even a small part of skin or were raped they were stoned to death. Anything to do with making themselves more beautiful was forbidden. Civilians used to have television, sports and games, which were banned when the Taliban took over. The sports stadiums were used to murder people who misbehaved, questioned, or refused the Taliban. Men also were not required to have long beards. When the Taliban came they arrested anyone whose beard was too short. They ruled by fear and brutality that was not known to the Afghanistan people before they took over.

There are a lot of people who think that there has not, nor there ever will be, progress in Afghanistan. There has been plenty of progress, you just have to look for it. Some of these include the Kandahar Rapid Village Development Project, Integrated Alternative Livelihoods Program in Kandahar Province, Education Quality Improvement Project, Vocational Training for Afghan Women, Food aid to Vulnerable Families, Tuberculosis Control and Polio Eradication Program, Maternal Health Initiative in Kandahar Province, National Solidarity Program, Afghanistan Sub-national Governance Program, and two of the larger projects that will make the most impact are the Dahla Dam and Irrigation System and Training and Mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces. Working on repairing the Dahla Dam is important to strengthening the Government, and economic growth of Afghanistan. It will provide water to most of Kandahar’s population. It will also create 10,000 seasonal jobs and will provide irrigated land to farmers which will help build up agriculture. In order for Afghanistan to be able to stand on its own, they must have stable security. Training the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) is one of the top priorities. About 2,400 ANA are stationed in Kandahar which is a large improvement over 2006 when there were only 600. Right now Canada is managing five battalions that have about 650 soldiers in each one. Training is still needed to ensure that the ANA will be capable of keeping things in check. More than 650 ANP have been trained but there is still literacy, corruption, and drug abuse problems that are still, and need to be, addressed. These are only the bare minimum of a long list of what is being done in Afghanistan.

We hardly ever hear about all the good that is being done in Afghanistan. We will hear about all the explosive IED’s that kill a few solders, but never why they are risking life and limb. Just a fun fact, they defuse 25 IED’s a day, which is a lot more than the number that get set off. Does the media report stuff like that? Not of course not. Michael Bergan, a soldier who was overseas, feels that the media is not informing the public of everything. “No the media does not report everything. Remember that they are a company with shareholders ect and ‘bad’ news sells better than ‘good’ news. Also a lot of these journalists stay within the confines of the camps too. Not all those do as I’m sure you are aware of the Canadian Journalist that was killed recently. Lastly, it is to be noted that if you were to watch Al Jezeera you will have a totally different view. I myself have never held much faith in the media as I have seen such clear mistakes in editing ect that I do not believe half of it as being correct.” This reporter that he mentions, Michelle Lang, was out of the safe zone because she knew that the truth was not being told and she wanted to find it for herself and share it with everyone else. Bergan also feels that the public is not informed of the war the way they should be. When asked if they were he replied, “Not really unless you are willing to research many different views and opinions on your own. I think the mainstream media such as CTV etc is just showing a very slim picture of what actually goes on.” Some reporters do not even bother reporting on certain things because they know that the story would get buried before it could reach the public. Soldiers know it, reporters know it, and so shouldn’t the public know it too?

The general public that has basically nothing to do with the war form all sorts of opinions based on what they think is concern for the soldiers and their families. I have heard the argument that the soldiers should be brought back, like they know how the solders feel. The majority of them do not want to come back. Most that are severely injured wish to go back as soon as possible. They know that their mission is important because they have actually been there. They have experienced things first hand. Major Brent Purcell expressed just how important he thinks the mission is. “I feel the mission is extremely important and I believe in it. I only hope that we do not abandon the Afghan people too early before they are ready to take on the responsibility for their own security.” If you ask other soldiers, many will answerer the same way. The families also have to suffer through letting their loved ones go into danger, and although people think they are helping by saying that “the troops should be brought back”, they have no idea just how much worse they are making it for the families. Speaking to many families who have gone through such trauma, it is obvious how frustrated they are towards the general public. One military wife who was so sick of what she had to hear wrote a blog entry about it. “Why are we In Afghanistan? A question very abstractedly answered by the media and interpretations from the general public. However, for us, as military, it is very simple… We are there to create peace and stability, infrastructure, water, primarily, and to help organize and build the ANA and police forces period. It is our job to be there, we were not forced to be there we want to be there.” A snippet from a very moving article “A Voice that is Seldom Heard” which is absolutely right, who ever hears these things from anyone? Who bothers to ask? It is rare to find a military family that does not support the war or who is not angered by the statements of the public. The daughter of the fallen soldier MCpl Allan Stewart, Brittany Stewart, says, “well most of my friends made fun of me (well there not really my friends), and saying mean things. and it made me really sad and saying that they are wasting their time and stuff. I try not to listen to them.” For those that are against the war because it is unfair to the soldiers or their families please don’t use us as an excuse for your own ignorance; it’s insulting.

Another reason people use to not be at war is that it is cruel to the people of Afghanistan. The truth is that they have seen much crueler things than a country fighting for their freedom. They once had the basic human rights only to watch them get taken away by the Taliban. They will be tortured or killed for even the smallest things. One thing we all have in common is that every person wants the freedom to do as they please. The majority of civilians want our help. In Brent Purcell’s experience, he knows how they feel. “I would say that the majority of the Afghan people are grateful we are there. The average Afghan citizen wants the same things as we Canadians want. They want safety, security, food and a better life for their children.” Michael Bergan shares his opinion. “Yes and no. of course the ‘yes’ ones are the people that have seen us as a non threat i.e. the civilians that we are helping via medical help and security and the ‘no’ ones are the ones fighting against us i.e. the Taliban and radical extremist groups.” Afghan people are willing to risk their lives for the freedom we are trying to give them. One Muslim women is very clear in her opinion. Benazir Bhutto, assassinated Prime Minister of Pakistan, talks about how many large Muslim leaders were outraged on the attack on their people after 9/11, “Obviously (and embarrassingly), Muslim leaders, masses, and even intellectuals are quite comfortable criticizing outsiders for the harm inflicted of fellow Muslims, but there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim-on-Muslim violence.” Over 80 women who were still trapped in their brutal lives without hope of escape committed suicide by lighting themselves on fire. This is better than a few years of war and eventually peace? The right to vote was given to Afghanistan and in the first year especially, it was a threat to anyone’s life to participate. Anyone who voted had to get a mark on their finger, and the Taliban targeted anyone with this mark. Did people shy away and not use this new right they were given? No, they risked their lives just to vote. When hairdressers were banned for women, and anyone who was caught running or going to a salon would be shot on the spot, did they give up and stay home? No, women set up salons in their basement and got great business. Women risked their lives just to get a haircut. It was not about the haircut, it was about getting freedom where they had none. If the people of Afghanistan don’t want the freedom we are giving them, then why do they risk there lives for the little things we take for granted every day?

Should we be in Afghanistan? The answer is in another two questions. Do we want to let others suffer while we sit comfortably at home? Do we want to risk the lives of each other on the hope that the radical terrorists will leave us alone? The answer is clear but most people don’t want to see it. I for one know that I don’t want to take the risk.

Written by Melissa Garrison a grade twelve student whos brother is currently serving with the Canadian Forces, Please free to leave a comment and I will share them with their family. Thank You

I was a soldier once - Jock Williams


I liked standing on a hillside in freezing rain just before dawn and realizing that I and the other soldiers in my unit were doing something very special for our country, undergoing physical and mental strains that many would not and could not face to keep our country safe and ready. Watching my fellow soldiers preparing their tanks and trucks for a move, taking down the cam nets, bringing the guns out of action, loading fuel and ammunition for this new long day, hearing the rough laughter and frequent unmeant bitching, feeling truly exhausted and knowing it was going to get a lot worse before it got any better actually added value to the experience. We were soldiers -and this was what it was like. We were the sheepdogs on watch against the wolves.

In those days some said there were no wolves. We knew better.

I liked the smell of the quartermaster stores -an odd admixture of gun oil, canvas preservative, leather, hemp rope and cigarette smoke. I liked the racks of rifles and submachine guns and I loved the gun sheds and tank hangars where the vehicles and weapons of war gleamed dully but exuded strength and capability and the power required to "get 'er done" if need be.

I loved the names of the equipment when I started off, Sherman, Lee Enfield, Sten and Bren because they spoke to me of the proud days when our fathers used them successfully in WW2. Our #36 grenade was the same as our grandfathers used in WW1 for God's sake! I also loved when these morphed into the Centurion, C1 rifle, Stirling submachine gun. The immortal 25 Pounder gun/howitzer gave way to the 105mm C2 and eventually the M109 gave way to the M777 and the guns could shoot accurately over 30 kilometres. The Centurion gave way to the Leopard and within weeks our tankers showed all of NATO that they were the best! Even we fighter pilots, which I had become by this time, were exceedingly proud of "our Dragoons" on that wondrous day!

We were growing stronger!

I liked the idea that as the commercial said; we did more by 0700 than most people did all day. I loved as range officer getting shots downrange by 0800 and I loved working for more than 24 hrs straight even though it pained. I loved the brutality of route marches because they set us apart from our civilian friends, most of whom I knew could never have hacked the pace. I loved climbing up cargo nets in full battle order and rappelling down cliffs, I loved running the assault course. I loved the early morning runs and the late night polishing before a parade. I loved the horseplay, the contests of strength, the intense feeling of truly being alive. I knew we were fit, fitter than most anyone on earth and ready for anything that came along. I confess that sometimes I almost wished it would...although in my heart I knew better.

I liked the soldiers, officers and enlisted men, from all parts of the land, from cities of Upper Canada, small towns of Nova Scotia, somehow especially those from Newfoundland, from the mountains and the prairies, from all walks of life. I trusted and depended on them as they trusted and depended on me for professional competence, for comradeship, for strength and courage. In a word, we were "soldiers"; then and forever.

I liked the surge of adventure in my heart, when word was passed that a unit was deploying, and I loved the infectious thrill riding homeward in a convoy waving at the cars we passed and at the pedestrians who I was sure looked at us with envy as we rolled through their villages on the way back to base. I love watching from the back of a truck while the towed howitzer without any form of cushioned suspension bounced along behind. I loved waving at the kids in cars that would trail us for a while before finally passing -and I knew in my heart that the drivers and their wives yearned for the joy and excitement that we were experiencing as opposed to their lives of quiet desperation. OK, sometimes maybe I deluded myself.

The work was hard and dangerous; the going rough at times; the parting from loved ones painful, but the companionship of robust Army laughter, the "all for one and one for all" philosophy of the military was ever present. I once had the best two hour sleep of my life sprawled across the hood of a ¾ ton troop carrier. The warmth of the engine created a zone of comfort that was perfect for one exhausted infantryman. Another five or six hours would have been nice, but there was work to be done.

I liked the fierce and dangerous activity on the gun line, in an APC or recce vehicle in the advance to contact. I loved commanding a tank and firing the best sniper rifle a guy ever had when we turned loose first that '76 on the Sherman and finally the '105 in the Centurion and Leopard. I loved loading the rounds and pulling the lanyard, I loved doing the recce for a night occupation and then seeing the guns roll into place and into action seamlessly

I loved the names and the history of the regiments I served in and with as had my father before me, and as do my sons after me! The Royal Canadian Regiment, the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, the First Hussars, 30 Field Regiment, The Scots Fusiliers. There is a richness to the names and an unparalleled history just waiting to be read. I loved the parades, the colours and guidon presentations, the march pasts and roll pasts, the advances in review order and the sound of the slap of gloves against the rifle sling on the Present Arms. I loved the sword drill when I was honour guard commander and take pride in the often legendary people I got to walk up to and invite to inspect the troops. I could feel the national anthem inside me while the band played it. Some may argue as to whether it should be "The Queen" or "O Canada" and some even favour "The Maple Leaf Forever". I could care less. I love them all and they can sometimes be topped in the memory of my heart by "Land of Hope and Glory". My God that song will move a man!

I loved walking about the position at night without the aid of a flashlight and somehow (usually) not falling into a slit trench or worse. I loved the weight of a steel helmet on my head and the embrace of my webbing. It made you feel like a superman, though in your heart you surely knew you were not. I loved the slap of a pistol holster on my hip and the weight of a rifle in my arms. I loved knowing that I could outshoot my soldiers most of the time and was incredibly proud when and if they outshot me, because it was an ongoing competition that added to our warrior skills and made us all the better for it. I shoot still today, sadly more than most of our soldiers. I can buy my own ammunition and am more generous than the government

I remember fondly the high quality of instruction that we received. There wasn't a single corporal/instructor I ever had who wasn't head and shoulders above most of my university professors when it came to instructional technique." Aim, Motivation, Outline, Link" what a magical and obvious way to teach! Too bad most universities still have no school of instructional technique!

I had one instructor who wore an unusual khaki ribbon with an oak leaf among his other ribbons. I asked him what it represented. He told me it was a Queen's Commendation which was the peacetime equivalent of the "Mentioned in Dispatches" in wartime. He had, having discovered a tank hangar fire, driven a tank through the closed hangar door to save it. Initially he was due to be court martialled for destroying the door! Eventually wiser heads prevailed. Fourteen other tanks were destroyed. The Canadian Forces eventually, slowly, got smarter! This same instructor could cook a prime rib roast of beef to perfection on the exhaust manifold of his pickup. He knew the exact time and mileage required and arrived with a prepared meal ready to serve.

Eventually a bunch of politicians, most of whom had never actually worn the uniform decided how to fix us!

I transferred to the Air Force and became a fighter pilot, and loved it! I wouldn't trade it for a thousand years!

Nonetheless...I will never forget that I was once a soldier. There is no higher calling. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I liked the traditions of the Army and those who made them. I liked the proud names of army heroes whom I came to know myself, Radley-Walters, Leo Gariepy, Bill Little, Joe McNeil, Brandy Conron, all comrades-in-arms. There was pride in self and country, and a growing mastery of the soldier’s trade. An adolescent could find adulthood. A man could find fulfillment. An old man now finds great joy.

When all soldiers are finally all home from the field, we will still remember with fondness and respect the regiments in which we served, the wretched conditions that brought us together in adversity, the high level of skills that we proudly developed against all odds. We will also hope that our country, having sorely neglected us for half a century will now continue to respect and support our contribution to its longevity.

Remembering this, we will stand tall and proud and say "I was a soldier once!"

Story of a Wounded Warrior

In 1994 I was involved in a attack in Ottawa, Ontario and stabbed thirteen times, I have recovered from this but two of the wounds in my upper left leg left me with half a muscle in it and have had pain there for the last 14 years. I then met someone through one of my groups MCpl Jody Mitic. Jody is a member of The Canadian Forces who lost both his legs after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan.

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean touches Master Cpl. Jody Mitic, left, as she presents him with the new Sacrifice Medal. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, right, and Chief of the Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk look on during the ceremony at Rideau Hall, Nov. 9, 2009. Photo: SEAN KILPATRICK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

One of the medics who treated Jody in Afghanistan is now his girlfriend and they have a daughter together. Yes I know sounds like something you’d see in a military movie but this is not.

I thought to myself, here is a guy that lost both of his legs in Afghanistan and he’s running in marathons for The ST. John’s rehab center and I’m at home complaining about a few leg cramps from my incident. I made the decision to start walking more, working out and in the last year thanks to Jody’s inspiration I have lost over 88lbs to date. I no longer have muscle cramps and feel amazing.
Mcpl Jody Mitic has been involved with the SOldier On program. A organization started by injures soldiers by injured soldiers that I stand behind and back with every part of me.

On Jody’s Twitter page his caption says “I may have fake legs but I have a real heart”
“Life as an amputee is a whole new lifestyle,” Mitic said Monday on Canada AM. “But meeting Alannah and then getting together and then having little Aylah, I wouldn’t trade any of it to have my legs back. I’m pretty happy with the way life is now.”

I meet a lot of people through the groups and sites I run, having 3.4 million members on Thank A Soldier I hear from quite a few of them. But I can honestly say Jody is by far the most inspirational person I have ever met in my life and I wanted to do a write up about him to say THANK YOU.
If you would like to know more about THE SOLDIER ON program please check out there website.
You can follow on Twitter MCpl Jody Mitic here.