Military Valour and Meritorious Service
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Presentation of Military Valour Decorations
and Meritorious Service Decorations
Rideau Hall, Friday, November 13, 2009
We are gathered here today to recognize the high degree of service rendered by our Forces, a service that achieves the highest standards of professionalism and dedication.
We have also gathered here this morning to recognize valour in the face of the enemy, incredible courage that defies impossible odds.
Some of you have been deployed in the Gulf of Oman and in the Persian Gulf, helping to transport food, and to combat terrorism and piracy, alongside the Multinational Force.
Others among you have occupied highly strategic positions, facing unprecedented challenges and threats.
Still others have helped to make the Forces more effective right here in Canada.
But most of you were sent on missions to Afghanistan.
As commander-in-chief, I want to share my joy in your safe return, after the dangers to which you have been exposed.
As you know, when repatriation ceremonies are held, I join families on the tarmac in Trenton. Each time I learn that one of you saved the lives of other members of your troops, I think of all the parents, spouses, children, and friends who have been spared the anguish of such a tragic loss.
Each time I am told about the success of one of your missions, I think of all the members of the Forces whom I have met, especially those I visited last September, when I travelled to Afghanistan for the second time.
Each time your efforts make it possible to increase the security and improve the living conditions of the people of Afghanistan, I think of the children, during my last visit, who confided to me that their fondest dream was to stop living in fear of being blown up by a landmine.
I also think of the women of Afghanistan who greeted me so warmly; who confided in me, their faces unveiled; who shared with me their concerns, their struggles, their dreams and aspirations; and whose daily lives are profiles in courage.
Finally, I think of the women and men of Afghanistan's civil society, who told me about their challenges and efforts to rebuild their country.
Thanks to you, these children, women, and men can one day hope to free themselves from the yoke of oppression, violence and poverty.
Thanks to you, communities have been able to satisfy their hunger, because ships transporting food have reached their destination. Like HMCS St. John’s so successfully did for the people of Haiti after 4 hurricanes devastated the island last year.
Thanks to you, your comrades are alive.
Thanks to you, the Canadian Forces continue the tradition of professionalism and commitment that forms the basis of their success and reputation.
For this, we thank you. We owe a heartfelt debt of gratitude to you, and to your families, who support and respect your choice, despite the considerable sacrifices it demands.
I think there is no greater honour than to know, deep in your heart, that your deeds and achievements have made such a difference to the lives of so many people.
I want you to know how proud you make me, how proud you make us all.