Canada has a shameful history of delaying military commemorations like Afghanistan

Canada has a history of being late to the table when it comes to commemorating the efforts of its military personnel.

On Tuesday, families of Canadian soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan learned they'll have to wait a little longer for a memorial to honour their fallen loved ones.

A Canadian Press story notes the defence department has shelved plans to revamp the National War Memorial to honour Canadians who fought in Afghanistan. To date, 157 Canadians have perished in the decade-long effort.

While defence department officials insist the efforts of the country's troops in Afghanistan "will be appropriately recognized and commemorated" after the full training mission ends in 2014, the delay is yet another blight in Canada's long history of overdue military commemorations.

It took almost 20 years after the devastation of the Second World War for the federal government to design and erect the national war monument in Ottawa. The inclusion of that war as part of the monument didn't take place until 37 years after it ended.

The 26,971 Canadian soldiers who fought in the Korean War were ignored by both Canadian media and government until 1982 as well.

"At the end of the war, Canadians returned to a peaceful nation that almost seemed to be unaware of the conflict across the ocean that had taken 516 Canadian and hundreds of thousands of others' lives," Senator Yonah Martin, who has championed the cause of recognizing Korean War veterans, said recently.

"For decades, the media ignored it. For the most part, reference to the war was buried in archives to occasionally arise as a footnote to history and most frequently referred to as the Korean conflict."

Canadian war veterans have also raised concerns about the lack of recognition for those who died as part of NATO missions during the Cold War.

Defence academic Douglas Bland, a retired soldier who served during the Cold War, told The Canadian Press "hundreds, if not thousands" died during the decades-long stand off with the Soviet Union, yet there has never been a monument to them.

"There are cemeteries all over northern Germany and France full of Canadians killed in the service of the North Atlantic Alliance."

As for Afghanistan, officials with Royal Canadian Legion say it will be up to the branches to decide whether to support adding the war to the memorial - a democratic vote.

(CP Photo)

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