Friday, November 24, 2006

Americans shut Canadian service personnel out of Thanksgiving

Not content with having their harvest festival at a stupid time of year, the Americans have... oh let's just let Barbara Mair tell her story from today's Star letters page:
In August 2006, my nephew left his wife and 5-year-old daughter for a 6-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. He, like so many other Canadian military personnel, did this for love of his country and to fight for freedom that too many of us take for granted.

On Oct. 9, 2006, our family sat down to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We talked about Afghanistan and wondered if those stationed there would be able to enjoy a similar meal. Later we found out that because the food service at the Kandahar base is run by the American military, they did not observe our Canadian holiday. Being the passive Canadian family, we thought Thanksgiving would be observed on the American holiday, Nov. 23 and didn't voice our disappointment at the time.

Can you imagine the shock and disappointment that our troops felt yesterday when a traditional Thanksgiving dinner was served, yet the mess was closed to all but the Americans? Why? I cannot think of one justifiable reason that the Canadian troops would not be allowed to sit at a table with the American troops. They live with them, they eat with them every other day; they fight the same battle as them, yet they are not permitted to share a meal. Are we such a passive society that we will allow this blatant slap in the face to our servicemen and women?

We need to stand up for the rights of our military personnel; we need them to know we support them, no matter what our personal beliefs may be about the situation in Afghanistan or any other area of conflict. This is about more than a turkey dinner; this is about equality and human decency. Our Canadian Forces have earned the right to be treated as equals.

Barbara L. Mair, Midland, Ont.

UPDATE (Dec 7): a letter from Canadian Forces Lieutenant-Commander Kris Phillips, currently stationed in Kandahar and with a quite different view of the matter, is in today's Star letters.
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