Families of fallen Canadians reflect on loss; hope Afghans live up to sacrifices

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OTTAWA - Was it all worth it?

Canada's last 100 troops from the Afghanistan training mission are on their way home, but the families of 158 soldiers, one diplomat, one journalist and two civilian contractors are left wrestling with that brutal, unsettling and awkward question.

Canada's military spent a dozen years in Afghanistan, both in Kandahar and Kabul.

The country they leave behind is far from secure and that's led Michael Hornburg of Calgary — who lost his son Cpl. Nathan Hornburg — to question why the West stayed after it was clear al-Qaeda had been routed in 2001-02.

Valerie Berry, the widow of diplomat Glynn Berry who was assassinated in 2006, says to conclude it wasn't worth it would dishonour the memory of her husband, and while it wasn't a perfect ending to the mission, his death in service to country — and others — was honourable.

Other families, including Anne Synder — whose son Capt. Jon Synder died in 2008 — sometimes wonders if the Afghans wanted the West there at all and whether it was fighting a losing battle.

Questions about the mission aren't as significant to Raynald Bouthillier, who says what's important is that his son Cpl. Jack Boutillier stood for the best qualities of being Canadian — compassion and a devotion to helping others.

Organizations: Al-Qaeda

Geographic location: Canada, Afghanistan, OTTAWA Kandahar Kabul Calgary

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