Yes, the Canadian story in Afghanistan is mixed, with closure hard to come by for those soldiers not only involved in security details, but development projects like protecting schools, building damns, and conducting civilian peace efforts in villages. But what shouldn't be in doubt is our government's promise and dedication to those military personnel.
The best place to start your family history journey is with information you already have: write down what you know and talk to family members. Create an online family tree: Begin with yourself and add your parents and grandparents. Record each person's name, birthplace, birth date, death place and death date. If you don't know the exact information, take your best guess.
I choose to wear the poppy for a different reason. I choose to wear it because as a woman with Native ancestry, I want to remember those whose faces we never see in the Heritage moments or on the Remembrance Day TV spots. While we remember the many veterans who fought in the many wars Canada has been involved in, the iconic images of these veterans are whitewashed.
My main reason for abstaining from wearing a Remembrance poppy is that I'm starting to feel like it represents a support for all of my country's military action, not just the sacrifices made by soldiers in past wars. It's as if by wearing it I'm giving my tacit agreement to Canada's activities in Afghanistan, or the ways that women are mistreated in the Canadian Forces. The truth is, though, that I don't want our military engaged in any kind of action; I don't want to feel like I have the blood of civilians (or, well, anybody) on my hands. I also feel deeply uncomfortable about a number of things that happen within military culture.
On June 1st 1866, a determined group of Civil War veterans boarded barges from Buffalo, crossed the Niagara River, and invaded Canada. The battle was small, as it lasted two days, and only saw 15 battleground deaths. It was plagued by inexperience, misunderstandings, screw ups, and failure on the Canadians' parts. But it shaped our nation.
One of the rarest and most useful assets for a "leader" is the ability to think "outside the box," as they say. My father revered "outside the box" thinking, and as someone who stayed in the army after the First World War, one of his preferred rants was that "high rank in the military tends to turn brain into bone."