November 11, 2009
The Honourable Rona Ambrose address constituents on Remembrance Day
In communities large and small from coast to coast, Canadians are gathering to remember those who have fought and sacrificed for our country. We are participating in a tradition that began shortly after the end of the First World War. Yet our tradition of remembrance is as strong as ever. This speaks volumes about the values we Canadians hold dear, and our deep appreciation for those who serve in the Canadian Forces.
Over the course of the last century, more than two million Canadians have served in the Forces. Whenever the cause has been just, we have always risen to the defence of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
We Canadians are the proud inheritors of a legacy of military excellence. Through the two tragic world wars of the 20th century, the epic struggle against communism, and dozens of peacekeeping and peacemaking missions in recent decades, the Canadians who have served in our army, navy and air force have earned a reputation for courage, skill and professionalism that is second to none in the world.
On Remembrance Day, we honour the more than one hundred thousand Canadians who have given their lives in defence of our country and our values. But at the same time, we pay tribute to the extraordinary achievements that they and their comrades have inscribed on the history of Canada. Achievements like the assault on Vimy Ridge that succeeded after so many others had failed, the brutal battle of Ortona that broke the Nazis’ Gothic Line, the taking of Juno Beach on D-Day, and the heroic defence of Seoul at the battle of Kap’yong.
Like other Canadians of the post-war generation, I grew up with these stories.
During the Cold War, we worked with our NATO and NORAD allies to contain Soviet Communism, and this week, in fact, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the liberation of Eastern Europe.
In the modern era, Canadians pioneered international peacekeeping, working with the United Nations to end conflict and save lives in dozens of war-ravaged countries around the world.
And today, of course, Canadian troops are on the front line in Afghanistan, working with the UN and NATO to bring peace and security to the long-suffering Afghan people and to prevent the return of a brutal Taliban regime that would trample human rights – especially those of women and girls – and provide sanctuary for terrorists.
On this day of remembrance, as Canadians meet in Legion halls like this, gather round outdoor cenotaphs, listen to the mournful notes of the Last Post, and pause for a moment of silence at the eleventh hour, it is impossible not to be moved by powerful emotions. They are comprised in equal parts of sorrow and pride. Sorrow for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and for the grieving families they have left behind.
But we are also incredibly proud of our fallen heroes and their families. Because we recognize, in them, all that is good and true in our country. Their courage, idealism and selflessness springs from deep in the Canadian soul. It is who we are, and generation after generation of brave men and women who wear the uniform of the Canadian Forces are the purest expression of these values. They are our best and brightest, and we owe them our unequivocal love and support for everything they do for Canada.
Lest we forget. Merci beaucoup. Thank you.