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Afghanistan Memorial Vigil visits Kingston

By Cam Kennedy [4]

KINGSTON – A touring memorial commemorating the people who lost their lives during Canadian military’s mission in Afghanistan was in Kingston on Wednesday.

After making stops in the Northwest Territories and the Royal Military College in St. Jean, Que., the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil’s final stop was at the Royal Military College of Canada.

The vigil will be transferred to Ottawa, the new permanent home of the display. No final location is set.

The memorial consists of plaques dedicated to each  of the 158 Canadian soldiers and more than 40 Americans.

Located in the centre of it all is a glass case that highlights some of the items associated with repatriation ceremonies that took place at the Kandahar airport.

Bagpipes, a Canadian flag flown in Kandahar and a chaplain’s robe were all sent from Afghanistan to be put on display with the rest of the vigil.

Along with the public, students at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston were able to view the display on Tuesday.

For one student, understanding the realities of war is easy when visiting displays like the Afghanistan Memorial Vigil.

“It (the vigil) gives a perspective from the families of the soldiers, you see their faces,” said Officer Cadet Adam Hyland. “It makes it easier to understand and to honour those who fought and served by showing your respects at this memorial.”

While the members honoured were mostly Canadian, it was the young Americans killed that struck a cord.

These American troops worked under Canadian operations while their mission was carried out in Afghanistan.

A couple of the American soldiers killed were only 18 years old, something that stood out to OCdt Hyland.

“Seeing the faces of 18 year olds, who are younger than most of the people at this college and in the military, it shows the reality of war and what it can do,” said Hyland.

Officer Cadet Adam Hyland discusses his first reactions to the vigil, the importance of visiting war memorials and the impact of seeing the names of 18 year olds who lost their lives in Afghanistan.

The display ends today.