Local residents are invited to a special dedication ceremony at the town cenotaph on Tuesday, Oct. 7 to honour members of the International Security Assistance Force who served in Afghanistan.
Organized by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 153 and the Tillsonburg Military History Club, the dedication ceremony will be held at the cenotaph on Oct. 7 at 4 p.m.
After the ceremony, a reception and dinner will follow at the Legion, at 16 Durham Street, with social hour at 4:45 p.m. and dinner at 5:30 pm. Dinner tickets are $20 available at Station Arts Centre, Annandale National Historic Site, McMillan and Wallis Hairstyling and at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 153.
Keynote speaker at the dinner will be Sergeant Stephen Thomas, who was awarded a Medal of Bravery for his actions while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2006.
Canadian troops were initially deployed to Afghanistan in late 2001. Originally planned as a two-year mission, it was extended twice through to 2011 when the majority of Canadian troops returned. The final Canadian troops left Afghanistan in 2014. A total of 158 members of the Canadian forces – 155 men and three women – died while serving in Afghanistan.
Soon after the last troops came home, plans were made to recognize them at community cenotaphs.
"We thought we were going to be first, but we're not," said Jerry Turner, secretary of the Tillsonburg Military History Club. "I think it was Ottawa and Windsor (May 9).
"The idea is that all the cenotaphs have World War I, World War II and Korea on them. So we wanted to be one of the first to have Afghanistan.
"There may have been other centres in Canada... that have added Afghanistan," said Frank Moore, a member of the Military History Club. "Windsor has done it and I believe Ottawa has done the same, but we're not aware of any others that have done it to date.
"We felt very strongly that it's the thing to do in Tillsonburg," said Moore. "The war, for Canada, is officially over in Afghanistan, and we felt our veterans as well as our comrades that have fallen should be recognized."