Official Canadian Ceremony at the Square du Canada (France)
Dieppe, France, Sunday, August 19, 2012
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied raid on Dieppe, and the legacy of that day lives on.
As commander-in-chief of Canada, I would like to thank you for being here to remember the sacrifices made by the nearly 5 000 soldiers who landed on these shores on August 19, 1942.
I especially want to thank the veterans of the Dieppe offensive—including those we are so fortunate to have with us here today.
Each of us remembers the tragedy of war in our own, private way, but together, we recognize that the Allied soldiers who fought here did so valiantly, in common cause.
That cause was freedom from tyranny, and we must never lose sight of the terrible price our soldiers paid in freedom’s name.
In the raid on Dieppe—and indeed throughout the Second World War—Canadians paid a very high price.
The veterans of Dieppe understand the enormity of that sacrifice in a way that few, if any, of us can truly comprehend.
The people of Dieppe share this understanding—particularly those who recall the raid, and the ensuing death and destruction that day.
People who live through war—whether they are soldiers or civilians—often carry that experience with them long after the fighting has ended. For many survivors, Dieppe is not some remote battle confined to the past. Rather, it lives on, vividly replaying in their hearts and their memories.
Sometimes, these memories are of great bravery and heroism; sometimes, of terrible torment and singular suffering.
As members of free and democratic societies, we must never forget our debt to those who served here in Dieppe with such courage and determination.
For veterans, this is no doubt a difficult day of remembrance. But I think it no coincidence that those who served in Dieppe have gone on to become leaders in the effort to commemorate the sacrifices made during the Second World War.
One such veteran is Jack McFarland of Hamilton, Ontario, who was wounded in the Dieppe raid. He continued his association with the Canadian Forces, and eventually received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2008 for his work on behalf of veterans.
Like many who lived through the raid on Dieppe, he could not forget the enormous price paid by so many of his comrades-in-arms.
The people of Dieppe have also been steadfast in honouring the contributions made by Canadian soldiers. This means a great deal to our veterans and to Canada.
The monument that stands here in Square du Canada is a testament to our enduring bonds— those forged in war and in peace. The people of this region have enjoyed treasured ties with Canada for over four centuries, dating all the way back to the time of Samuel de Champlain.
Today, with this solemn ceremony, we renew that bond.
By all accounts—even those given by enemy soldiers—the Canadians who fought here were courageous, skilled and dedicated. As we mark this 70th anniversary of the raid on Dieppe, let us pay tribute to the sacrifices made by those brave soldiers.
And let us honour the freedom for which they fought by renewing our dedication to building a more peaceful, fair and just world.