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"During the tough times, the truly difficult moments . these were the things that helped us make it through."

Ralph's searing, intimate view of the conflict was a world apart from the thundering 21 gun salute, the marching bands, the fly pasts and the cluster of armoured vehicles that overran Parliament Hill on Friday for a nationally televised commemoration that played down pomp and emphasized practical. ET), it was the families to whom Ralph had the "privilege of ministering to" that came to mind.

The only thing to distinguish retired lieutenant general Marc Lessard, who commanded NATO's entire southern region in Kandahar in 2008, from one of the civilians on the ground was a tiny military order of merit pin on his lapel.

The flash and brass that jazzes up many military ceremonies was toned down. The fly past involved Chinook and Griffin helicopters, a Hercules, an Airbus and Globemaster transport planes.

Some of those families were among hundreds feted at a closed door corporate breakfast where many in the close knit community were able to catch up with one another and proudly thrust photos of their lost loved ones before Ottawa's political and business elite.

"It was tough for all those that served, but finally, finally we have this day," he said.

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Day of Honour ceremony held to honour Afghanistan veterans

OTTAWA As Canadians paid tribute to the 40,000 soldiers who took part in the country's 12 year Afghanistan conflict, padre Phillip Ralph gave thanks for the small mercies that come with the end of a war.

Speaking in Calgary, Trudeau paid tribute to the soldiers.

But the political divisions exacerbated by the war were less easy to paper over as both Opposition Leader Tom Air Max 90 Dark Green

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Ralph's job was to be "a door knocker" along with another officer and tell families that a loved one wasn't coming home; a task the reserve force captain of over 20 years carried out five times.

"The work was far from easy, the hours long and the danger always present, but one of the most important things that kept Air Max 90 Essential On Feet us going was the knowledge that we were never far from the thoughts of folks back home," Kurdziel said.

The Conservatives, who've carved at least $2.1 billion out of the defence budget, have also fought bruising battles with veterans over benefits and pensions.

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It means the Baptist minister from Ajax, Ont., will no longer get those three o'clock in the morning telephone calls when there were casualties.

"My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of all those who paid the ultimate price, as well as those who still struggle with the psychological aftermath of this war," he said.

Mulcair, who was in Montreal, put out a statement throwing the spotlight on the ill and injured.

up in understated civilian attire and wasn't seated among the VIPs.

The military has been faced with a rash of suicides and attempted suicides in a crisis that's put pressure on the government to live up to its commitment to hire more mental health professionals.

"Letters from kids all across the country, care packages addressed 'To any Canadian soldier' from complete strangers or a quick phone call home to get something as simple as words of encouragement were the things that put a smile on our faces.

He said he wanted to mingle with the public, but was happy the government hosted the event.

The strain was evident at times, as many of the senior commanders who prosecuted the war, such retired general Rick Hillier, showed Nike Air Max Blue And Grey

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Later in the day, they sat in bleachers on the wind swept lawn in front of Parliament to witness the display of national appreciation before a crowd of a few thousand mostly uniformed members of the military, veterans and civil servants, some of whom ate their lunch and ducked out when the speeches started.

"I'd like to offer you my deepest thanks for your service and your sacrifice," said Johnston.

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"On the one hand, some of those families you wish you'd never met under those circumstances, but on the other hand it was a privilege to know such wonderful families who allowed their sons, their daughters, their husbands, their wives to serve," he said.

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The national day of honour was billed as a way for a grateful nation to show its appreciation, but outside of Ottawa municipalities and community groups, such as the Royal Canadian Legion, were thrown Air Max 90 Jordan

into a fit of last minute planning.

Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau were out of town.

One of the keynote speakers in Ottawa was a combat engineer who won the Medal of Bravery for crawling into a cramped space to spend two hours defusing an improvised explosive device in 2010.

"I'm not going to play politics with today," he said. "I'm going to be serene in my support for the men and women in the Canadian Forces and the extraordinary work they did and I'm glad to see that all political parties are united across the country like I am here in Calgary in supporting this day of honour."


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"It's a unique opportunity for us to say thank you to the men and women who have fought and served for Canada," said Harper. "We are here today to honour their dedication, to honour their heroism and to honour their sacrifice."

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It was left to Gov. Gen. David Johnston and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to offer the country's formal gratitude.

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