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August 9 is National Peacekeepers’ Day

-Local resident would like the day to have more recognition-


File photo: Ron Griffis, Chairman of the Board of Director for the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, is pictured right during the 2017 Remembrance Day ceremony in Essex Centre.

by Sylene Argent

Cottam resident Ron Griffis, who is the Chairman of the Board of Director for the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping, was a one of several individuals representing a variety of veteran groups supporting a Private Members Bill when it was brought before the House of Commons in 2007, asking that a Peacekeepers’ Day be recognized in Canada.

  Now, August 9 is recognized as National Peacekeepers’ Day in Canada, after the Bylaw was passed on June 8, 2008. 

  Griffis was one of many who testified before the Canadian parliament, advocating for the need of a national day of recognition. Previously, the day was recognized in a few provinces. Once it was accepted, he testified in front of senate to bring forward the authorization of the Bill so it could be proclaimed.

  “I did it out of political correctness,” Griffis said of his involvement in urging the federal government to pass the Bill. He said there are several major veteran organizations in Canada, many of which assist vets. He got involved to give organizations recognition and so that none of those organization would stand alone on the podium.

  Many areas, on that date, recognize the day or host a ceremony in the honour of the men and women who have served in Canadian peacekeeping missions. Griffis would like to see the day recognized locally.

  The date, August 9, was selected as National Peacekeepers’ Day, as in 1974 all nine Canadian peacekeepers who were on a United Nations-marked Canadian transport aircraft were killed. Their plane was shot-down by Syrian missiles during a regular resupply mission, according to www.veterans.gc.ca.

  Any service men and women who have passed, “Have to be recognized. We must always keep them in our memory. In the last several years, they have been recognized,” he said.

  “I’m hoping people will observe August 9,” Griffis said, adding Canada is a leader in peacekeeping. The latest peacekeeping mission for Canadians includes a mission to Mali.

  Griffis always wanted to join the military as a young man and has been involved since 1957.

In 1959, he joined the Canadian Provost Corps, the Military Police of the Canadian Army. In 1968. the Canadian Provost Corps was amalgamated into the Canadian Forces. In 1966, his term of engagement had ended, so he joined the OPP.

  Peacekeeping, he added, is all-encompassing term, it could mean peacemaking, peace-support, or peacekeeping.

  Griffis said it is frustrating to not have August 9 recognized as much as he believes it should be. He hopes to bring awareness about the existence of the recognition day, locally, so it will be recognized as it is supposed to be. He would love to see a service at a cenotaph to recognize the day. He noted there are other organizations that host ceremonies across Canada on August 9, or near to the date, like in London, Angus, Ottawa, and Peterborough in Ontario, and in Calgary and Nova Scotia.

  In addition, Griffis said, there is the huge Reconciliation Monument is Ottawa that recognizes peacekeeping. “Our organization was instrumental in having the monument erected,” he said. A ceremony is held at the moment annually on the Sunday closest to the date.

  “Veterans should be recognized more than Peacekeeping Day or Remembrance Day. They should be recognized for their service,” he said.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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