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Click here to see A Tribute to the Canadians wounded and killed by "Friendly Fire"

The four Canadian soldiers who died April 18, 2002 were identified as:

 Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, 25, of Montreal
Pte. Richard Green, 22, of Mill Cove, N.S.
Sgt. Marc Leger, 29, of Lancaster, Ont.
Pte. Nathan Smith, 27, of Tatamagouche, N.S.

     The eight injured soldiers are:  Sgt. Lorne E. Ford, 33;  MCpl.
Stanley P. Clark, 35;  MCpl. Curtis R. Hollister, 29;  Cpl. Shane R.
Brennan, 28;  Cpl. Brian M. Decaire, 25;  Cpl. Rene Paquette, 33;  Cpl.
Brett R. Perry, 26;  and Pte. Norman D. Link, 24


     I'm an American citizen, and it's time to say "I'm sorry" to a best friend.
     The United States and Canada have been best friends for well over 100 years.  Every year, tens of millions of Americans and Canadians cross the longest undefended border in the world and share a rich history of brotherhood and commerce.  We've laughed and cried together over the generations -- celebrating a peace between neighbors that other countries around the globe can only envy.
     Canada's natural beauty is only matched by its hospitality.  It's a place where the world feels welcomed and visitors are treated like royalty. While Canada sets the "gold standard" for its Maple Leaf, the purest gold bullion coin in the world, it also holds the standard for something much more valuable -- its goodwill.
     Americans have come to love Canada and its people.  Just recently, we cheered when the Olympics justly awarded Canadian figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier their well deserved gold medal.  And you didn't see too many Yankees shed a tear when the Canadian team beat the United States in the Olympic finals to take Canada's first hockey gold in 50 years. Moreover, the Toronto Blue Jays have been the only non-American team to rightly earn the honor of being called World Series Champions.  Americans have always been inspired by Canada's determination, its guts and its talent in all fields of endeavor.
     Canada has always been there for us.  During World War I and II, Canada sacrificed over 100,000 lives for the cause of liberty.  Canada even sent its Atlantic naval fleet to cover the American northern flank during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  And we will never forget what Ken Taylor did in 1980.  He was the Canadian Ambassador to Iran who risked his own life to
rescue Americans trapped during the Iranian Hostage Crisis.
     When tragedy stuck the United States on September 11, most of the countries around the world offered sympathy and condolences.  But few countries were actually ready to stand up and be counted.  Canada could have watched the whole thing from the sidelines, but she took it upon herself to get involved.  Canada sent troops to Afghanistan to stand shoulder to shoulder with America.  It was more than a hollow gesture. Canada bravely assumed her role as a full partner, willing to sacrifice the lives of her young people to combat the evils of terrorism.
     However, that partnership was strained this past week.  Canadians heard the devastating news that four of their soldiers were killed and eight were wounded.  Sadly, these casualties were not due to enemy fire, but rather "friendly fire" by an American bomb mistakenly dropped on their position.  The incident is being investigated now, but the fact remains -- a fatal accident occurred that has cracked the foundation of trust our two countries have proudly built over the years.
     Some Canadians realize war is a place where accidents happen.  Other Canadians are understandably angry, defiant, and question Canada's role in Afghanistan.  The political debates will continue on, from the coffee shops to the Canadian Parliament.  Canada will determine her own course, as she always has.
     But there is one thing that cannot be debated -- one thing that Canadians must understand.
     While I am only one citizen, allow me to speak for millions of Americans:

     While no words can bring your soldiers back, we are truly sorry that this accident happened.  Obviously, if we could make this all go away, we would.
     However, no matter what the detractors say, don't believe them.  If they tell you Americans or the international community don't appreciate you, they are not telling the truth.  We are eternally grateful for your support and partnership.
     If they say your participation is being taken for granted, don't believe them.  Don't think for a second that the American citizens aren't fully aware of who is standing by us, and who is not.  Canada is renowned throughout the world, especially in the United States, for its defense of freedom and its courage to fight for what is right.
     There is little I can say to heal the emotional wounds that have been inflicted upon the brave soliders' families and Canadian society.  We are all sorrowful and filled with remorse.  Our regret is sincere.
     But please hear this simple message:  If and when the situation ever arises, you can be assured that the American people will be there for you to help Canada in its hour of need -- with our money, our resources, and yes, even our lives.  I truly hope that Canada will never need the U.S. to respond to such a tragedy as September 11.  But just in case it does, you can bet American citizens will see to it that Canada never carries such a burden alone.
     We will never forget what you have done for us, and we will teach our children that Canadians have given their lives to help the cause of freedom.  We will make sure that our elected representatives understand and carry out this simple, but powerful, mandate from the people:

             America will ALWAYS stand by Canada,
             as Canada has stood by us.

     It's the least we could do, and it's the least we WILL do, because Canada is more than just a neighbor -- she is also a best friend.

              -- Lee Simonson, American citizen

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