Decorations for Bravery
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Presentation of Decorations for Bravery
Rideau Hall, Friday, June 19, 2009
Believe me when I tell you that for me, this ceremony is one of the most moving ceremonies over which I preside here at Rideau Hall.
And if it were possible, I would invite everyone to attend who has lost hope in humanity and replaced the willingness to act with defeatism and indifference. You know, that “fend for yourself” mentality that causes people to look away.
Because taken as a whole, your acts of bravery, which will be described briefly today, are a lesson in humanity and give us reason to believe that there is still some good in the world.
Each one of your stories deserves to be told.
Each one is remarkable, extraordinary, heroic.
Each one shows us that reality is often much more dramatic than fiction.
Each one grabs hold of our heart.
And that is just what we are talking about today: heart.
After all, isn’t it true that we say that a person who demonstrates courage has heart?
To have heart, to have courage, is not to be without fear, as in the tales of knights and chivalry, where the hero is known for his daring.
Rather, it is to have the ability to overcome one’s fear and transform it into action.
Sometimes, as was true in your case, it means risking your very life to save the life of another.
The bravery that you demonstrated has nothing to do with audacity, physical strength, or even age.
For example, two of you were just 10 and 12 years old when they helped another person in distress.
In such situations, what gives us superhuman strength and focuses all of our energy on the Other in need of help is the profound, unwavering conviction that life is precious and that every effort must be made to preserve and protect it.
Your actions remind us of the very best within each of us, of that part of us that is most beautiful, most noble, most luminous.
And I cannot think of any act more worthy of praise and recognition.
My dearest wish is that we can all be inspired by your bravery and find our own courage to face the challenges in our daily lives and in our world.
On behalf of all Canadians, I thank you. For the lives that you have saved. For the lives that have been enriched by your generous example.