Presentation of Decorations for Bravery
Rideau Hall, Friday, February 8, 2013
It is a pleasure and an honour to welcome you to Rideau Hall today.
This is not the first time I have presented the Decorations for Bravery; yet each time I do so, I am struck by the very goodness of humanity.
Each of you faced some form of danger head on —from others, from the environment, from a circumstance in which you found yourselves. Yet each of you rose to the occasion, showing that even the smallest act of good can overcome the most desperate of situations.
It is that innate goodness that has bound together the many and varied recipients of this award throughout its more than 40-year history.
And although we mourn the loss of those who could not be saved and those who lost their own lives in the act of saving others, we can take comfort in the knowledge that in the end, they were caring for someone or being cared for. No matter what, they were not alone.
In other words, from goodness flowed compassion—a willingness and a need to help others, to think solely of another’s life and how precious that life is to us all.
Each of the men and women we have lost will remain with us, with friends and family. Not just in memory, but memorialized in these brave and kind deeds.
That compassion, that love for others is what drives us to give, to make this country better, and, yes, to save a life. It is that compassion that helps us to be a caring nation.
All of you are here because you acted without thought for your own safety. You plunged headlong into danger because you knew it was the right thing to do.
You put yourself on the line, not with thoughts of glory or with visions of accolade, but with the simple goal of saving a life.
For some of you, this is a vocation. You saw a need in our society; you saw how you could help others in a meaningful way and set out to make your dreams a reality. It is you, our emergency responders, to whom we turn in times of crisis. That you receive this award today is a testament not just to your bravery, but also to your overwhelming desire to go above and beyond your responsibilities.
You—all of you, in fact—tapped into that very primal and instinctual part of yourselves that simply said protect, even when it came to helping a stranger. That you acted so readily shows your courage and your moral fortitude when faced with danger.
Anne Frank wrote: “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
You have shown us how decent people can be, how caring and compassionate we can be, and simply how good we are deep down.
It is an honour to present you with the Decorations for Bravery. Thank you for your service to others.