Attrition: Afghanistan, Canada And Remembrance Day

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April 2, 2014: On March 14th Canada officially ended its participation in the Afghanistan War. Some 40,000 Canadians served in Afghanistan and 158 died in combat. The Canadians served in the south, where most of the Taliban and drug gangs are. They were in the thick of it for over a decade. Proportionately (with about one tenth the population of the U.S.) Canada suffered less loss in Afghanistan than the United States. Canada did not officially participate in the Vietnam War, but over 30,000 Canadians crossed the border and volunteered. Thus Canada lost 117 citizens in Vietnam. Canada was an active participant in the Korean War, where 26,791 served and 516 died there.

During the first half of the 20th Century Canada suffered proportionately heavier losses in the World Wars than did the United States. Canada was part of the British Commonwealth and felt obliged to hasten to aid Britain in 1914 and 1939. Thus Canadians entered the two World Wars before the United States and suffered (taking into account different population sizes) six times as many dead in World War I and 18 percent more during World War II.

Canada paid a heavy price for its participation in World War I and that led to many Canadians, especially in Quebec, opposing getting involved in World War II, or getting involved very heavily. While November 11th (the day World War I ended) continues to be observed in the United States as Veterans Day, in Canada, and the other nations of the Commonwealth, it is Remembrance Day and proportionately more Canadians than Americans feel a sense of family loss from that conflict. A century later those losses still resonate.

 

 


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