Canada honoured dozens of soldiers who have lost their lives in battle or were wounded by hostile action with the first ever Sacrifice Medals, presented in Ottawa Monday.

Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean presented medals to 46 people at a somber ceremony at Rideau Hall, including 21 posthumously to soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan.

The Sacrifice Medal was created last year to give a form of lasting recognition to soldiers who died in service since Canada's mission in Afghanistan began in Oct. 2001. It is also awarded to a soldier that dies under honourable circumstances as a result of an injury or disease related to military service, or is wounded by hostile action.

Jean shook the recipients' hands, said a few words to them, and pinned the medals to their uniforms. They then shook hands with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk.

"You have made unimaginable sacrifices in the name of justice and freedom. Your families have done the same," Jean said in a speech.

She said she saw familiar faces in the group, and has met with families of soldiers who have lost a loved one.

"Many of you have shared your pain with me. Time eases the pain, but it never goes away," she said.

"You are not alone. Those of you who are wounded also are not alone. We know the price you have paid," she said.

"Know that Canadians share this pain and pride with you."

Harper thanked the soldiers, for "bringing light and hope to people who have long known only darkness and despair."

"Thank you for giving so much of yourself, perhaps even more than you thought you had to give in service of your fellow human beings," the prime minister said.

Ben Walsh fought the government for more than a year to have the criteria expanded to include all soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. His son, Jeffrey, died in an accidental shooting there in 2006. The medal was originally meant to honour only those who were killed or wounded by hostile fire.

Walsh, who is from Saskatchewan was in Ottawa to accept the medal from Jean. He says he will give the medal to Jeffrey's widow Julie, and their three kids so they will know about their dad's sacrifice.

The medal is a silver circle, with Queen Elizabeth on one side, and  a representation of the statue named "Canada" that forms part of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial is on the other side. The inscription "sacrifice" appears in the lower right half of the medal.

Dr. Glyn Berry, a diplomat who was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2006 also received a medal.

"The Sacrifice medal means my hard work and suffering is recognized," said Lieut. Trevor Greene. He was attacked by a man wielding an axe during a meeting with tribal elders in Afghanistan.

His skull was split, and his brain was severely damaged. He's since gone through heavy physiotherapy and recently was able to stand with assistance.

"This will be kind of joyous and humbling all at once," he told CTV Ottawa in an interview before recovering his medal.

Greene, who became a military man later in life, has been making steady progress. He is proud of being able to stand again. He hopes he will be able to walk down the aisle during his wedding next summer.

"It's like my body erupted in sensations," he says.

"He's going do everything in his power to overcome this challenge, and he is. And he will. " says his fianc� Debbie Lepore.

"What drives him now as a person is our daughter, Grace," she said. He wants to throw her up in the air like a father does for a daughter."

Recipients of the Sacrifice Medal and Bar

Sergeant Lance Thomas Hooper, M.S.M., C.D.

Recipients of the Sacrifice Medal

Captain Casey Balden

Corporal Cole Daniel Bartsch (posthumous)

Corporal Robbie Christopher Beerenfenger (posthumous)

Dr. Glyn Raymond Berry (posthumous)

Master Corporal Roger Dennis Boudreau, C.D.

Private Darryl James Caswell (posthumous)

Sergeant Joseph Anatole Serge Charette, C.D.

Corporal Ryan E. G. Elrick, C.D.

Corporal Andrew James Eykelenboom (posthumous)

Master Corporal Paul Milson Franklin

Master Corporal Michael Christian Gauthier, C.D.

Corporal Vincent C. Gauvreau-Roussin

Master Corporal Dave Gionet, M.M.V.

Captain Nichola Kathleen Sarah Goddard, M.S.M. (posthumous)

Corporal Joseph Francois Etienne Gonthier (posthumous)

Private Richard Anthony Green (posthumous)

Captain Charles Trevor Greene

Corporal Phillip J. Guy

Private Michael Yuki Hayakaze (posthumous)

Sergeant Sheldon Herritt, C.D.

Private Arielle Marie Keyes-Oliver (posthumous)

Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener, M.S.C., C.D. (posthumous)

Private Joseph Simon Maurice Serge Longtin (posthumous)

Captain Juli-Ann Dawn Mackenzie (posthumous)

Captain Simon Jean Mailloux

Corporal Nicholas George Makischuk

Master Corporal Bounyarattanaphon Makthepharak

Corporal Joseph Francois Maurice Malboeuf, C.D.

Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish, C.D. (posthumous)

Officer Cadet Jesse Lee Melnyck

Master Warrant Officer Joseph Christian Michel Mario Mercier, M.S.C., C.D. (posthumous)

Master Corporal Jody Allan Mitic, C.D.

Master Corporal Kirk Bradley Noel (posthumous)

Corporal Michael P. O'Rourke, M.M.V.

Master Corporal Darrell Jason Priede (posthumous)

Corporal J. Y. Martin Renaud

Master Corporal Joel Emile Richard

Master Seaman Crysta L. Rutherford

Lieutenant(N) Christopher Edward Saunders, C.D. (posthumous)

Sergeant John Sloan, C.D.

Sergeant Mark William Soper, C.D.

Sergeant Shane Hank Stachnik (posthumous)

Master Corporal Jeffrey Scott Walsh (posthumous)

Sergeant Gregory Owen White

Private Joel Vincent Wiebe (posthumous)