Annual Inspection of the Ceremonial Guard
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Rideau Hall, Wednesday, June 22, 2011
It is a great honour to conduct this annual inspection of the Ceremonial Guard, which marks the beginning of your summer duties in our nation’s capital.
As you know, this is our first such occasion since my installation as governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada. And I can tell you, it is an event that I have been very much looking forward to.
Who among us does not feel a rush of pride and excitement while in the presence of the Ceremonial Guard? Your regalia, your precision and your pageantry inspire our respect and our sense of wonder.
As a father and a grandfather, I often look at the faces of children when I want to glimpse a spontaneous response to the world. And I think today we all resemble children, wide-eyed and captivated by the impressive women and men in our midst.
Sometimes, it is worth asking the simple questions, so we might ask ourselves: what exactly is the Ceremonial Guard, and what is the source of our enduring fascination?
Each of you is a member of the Canadian Forces, and you have come from regiments all across Canada to serve in the nation’s capital.
Some of you are reservists and students at the outset of your careers, while others have served overseas in major international peacekeeping missions.
Together, you have assembled to form the four divisions of the Ceremonial Guard and its band. Some of you wear the uniform of the Governor General’s Foot Guards, and others that of the Canadian Grenadier Guards.
Both of these regiments have roots that pre-date Confederation, and both have a history of attracting Canadians who are driven by a single overwhelming desire: to serve their country.
You are part of a long tradition of service to Canada, and I want to take a moment to emphasize the unique nature of your duties as members of the Ceremonial Guard.
Quite simply, there is no posting like it.
This is an appropriate setting for the annual inspection of the Ceremonial Guard because, like Rideau Hall itself— and indeed, like the position of governor general that I am privileged to hold—your presence in Ottawa is both symbolic and physical.
You are soldiers standing guard, and yet you are so much more. As members of the Ceremonial Guard, you are touchstones of our heritage as Canadians. Every aspect of your dress, your drill and your deportment exudes history, and through your presence we see an image of ourselves and of Canada.
Never underestimate the importance of ceremony. By serving in the Ceremonial Guard, you help us to better appreciate and understand this remarkable country of ours.
And for that, I thank you and wish you the very best this summer, on behalf of all Canadians.