Presentation of Meritorious Service Decorations
Rideau Hall, Thursday, September 12, 2013
It is a pleasure to welcome all of you to Rideau Hall, home of the people of Canada, for this presentation of Meritorious Service Decorations.
I am proud to call myself commander-in-chief, but I find it an even greater honour when I am so named by a member of our Canadian Armed Forces. That is because without you, without what you do for our country, day in and day out, there would be no commander-in-chief. And without you and what you have done throughout our history, our very country would not look the same.
Today, you continue to fill a number of important roles: as soldiers and peacekeepers, as ambassadors and consensus builders. You protect our freedom, and you respond to emergency situations and disasters.
Wherever I meet soldiers, I am impressed by the diversity of their skills and their willingness to collaborate with others to get the job done.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to the North to observe Canadian Armed Forces personnel taking part in Operation NANOOK. There, I met with soldiers who were sharing best practices with emergency responders and municipal and federal representatives.
And I had the chance to sit down with our men and women in uniform, to get to know them and to laugh with them while sharing a meal.
The camaraderie and leadership I saw in the North was characteristic of what I have come to know about the Canadian Armed Forces.
That is one reason why I am so honoured each time that I am able to present these decorations.
And of course, there are the stories: of bravery and ingenuity, of steadfast resolve and steely determination. They are stories that prove that the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces regularly go above and beyond the call of duty.
They are your stories, and you inspire me with them.
Whatever you have accomplished, wherever you have served, you have shown leadership and demonstrated the soundest judgement that kept our troops safe and ensured mission success.
And you did so because of your commitment to duty and to Canada, and because there was never a doubt in your mind that you had to succeed.
These decorations are a tangible sign of both your success and your commitment to the uniform that you so proudly wear.
Last year, at the change of command ceremony for the chief of the Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk offered this advice to General Tom Lawson: “Wear your own boots...You’ll fill them real well.”
All of you being honoured here today have worn your boots well. Some of you have trodden through the muck and mire of combat and have shown us true bravery; others have used innovative practices to improve all aspects of safety and security. All of you have given us cause to be proud of what the Canadian Armed Forces do each and every day.
All of you serve as examples of the best Canada has to offer. For this, I am honoured to present you with these decorations.