26 July, 2005
Why 9 August?
9 August was chosen because on that date in 1974 the greatest single loss of Canadian lives on a peacekeeping mission occurred. Nine Canadian peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt and Israel, were flying in a Canadian Forces "Buffalo" transport aircraft on UN service which was shot down by Syrian air defence missiles while preparing to land at Damascus, Syria on a regular resupply mission. There were no survivors.
Canada's first casualty on a peacekeeping mission occurred in 1951 when Acting-Brigadier HH Angle of Kamloops, BC died in a plane crash in Kashmir on the border between India and Pakistan. Since then, 114 members of the Canadian Armed Forces and one member of Canada's diplomatic service have died in far-off lands in the service of peace. The spouse and mother of the deceased receive the Memorial Cross, a gesture of commemoration from the Government of Canada begun in 1919 for casualties of WW1 and continued for casualties of WW 2, the Korea conflict and for casualties on peacekeeping missions.
On this day, we recognize the families of our peacekeepers who keep up the morale of our peacekeepers with cards and letters, parcels and gifts. They play a central part too helping their spouses to adjust to the peace and tranquility of their home and country when they return.
We also recognize and thank other Canadians who have given freely of their time to support our Peacekeepers abroad. In particular are the ham radio operators who nightly have connected to the military ham radio operators calling from the missions and linked the peacekeepers to their families back in Canada. This most valuable service, always given freely, has been a strong element in maintaining family morale. We also thank the families that knit the "Izzy Dolls", small dolls given to the children whom Canadian peacekeepers meet as they patrol their assigned areas. Created by his family in memory of Master Corporal Mark Isfeld who died in 1994 while serving in the former Yugoslavia, the dolls have brought much pleasure to children in many countries suffering the ravages of brutal conflict.
Peacekeeping Day, 9 August is about recognition and commemoration; of peacekeepers past, present and yet to come and their families; recognition and thanks to those who help make the peacekeeping duty less arduous; and remembering our fallen comrades who have died in the service of peace.