The Generosity of Canadians  

By Major Mark Popov, Officer Commanding Reconnaissance Squadron, Task Force 3-09 Battle Group

While the holiday period was difficult for many in the military community, both those at home and in Afghanistan, one factor made the holiday period away a little less difficult for those serving far from home – the generosity of ordinary Canadians. The outpouring of concern and support from people across Canada towards those deployed overseas over this past holiday season has been amazing.

Throughout the month of December and into January, deployed soldiers, even those living in small, mud-walled compounds next to Afghan villages in remote areas, were inundated with cards sending holiday greetings, Christmas wishes, thoughts, prayers, gifts and messages of support, pride, concern, luck and encouragement. School classes sent us art work, hand-made cards, drawings of flags and letters of support, their characters painstakingly and carefully printed by children new to writing. We received parcels and packages, boxes and bags, Christmas decorations, coffee, presents, candy and goodies and in one case, a piece of modern art.

School classes, 4H groups, Scout troops, veterans’ groups, Cadet units and community organizations all sent items, but the large majority of the cards and wishes were sent by ordinary Canadians of their own accord. We received many letters and cards from people, who, despite being busy with their own lives, working hard, taking care of their families and getting by in the chaotic holiday season, dedicated the time to pick up a pen and jot down a few lines of greeting to “any soldier”. That people at home in Canada made that effort, the effort to sit down and write a message of support to a soldier they have never met and likely never will, to a soldier serving on the other side of the world to make people’s lives better in another country – that is amazing.

Every soldier in my Squadron who has served overseas on previous missions agreed that we had never seen such a cornucopia of thoughtfulness, concern and care from the Canadian people. To the people that took the time to send us letters, cards, greetings and packages, thank you. We read your letters, we put them up in your tents, we shared them with each other, we used children’s artwork to decorate vehicles, command posts, sentry positions and our eating areas. Literally everywhere we looked, we realized that people were thinking about us and caring about what we are doing here. In many cases soldiers responded back to those who wrote with a card, letter or postcard of their own. We do appreciate everything that people sent and we thank you.

If you are one of those ordinary Canadians that took a few minutes to send an “any soldier” card, you helped us. You brought up our morale and made doing a difficult and dangerous job in a hostile place that much easier to bear.

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