Presentation of Decorations for Bravery
Rideau Hall, Thursday, April 24, 2014
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There is no identifiable scale to measure a person’s bravery. It is intangible, invisible. And yet, when it is seen, out in the open, through actions and deeds, bravery becomes very recognizable indeed.
All of you are here because you have shown courage in the face of insurmountable odds. You have plunged into danger with little consideration for your own safety. You have saved lives, and no greater honour can ever be bestowed.
Yet, as governor general, I feel it is my responsibility to bring your stories to light, to praise you for your selflessness. It is a duty in which I take great pride—and one I approach with no small amount of humility. After all, we have gathered here to celebrate, but also to remember. There are those—victims and bravery recipients alike—who are not here today.
We feel their loss deeply, but their spirit survives in each retelling of their tales of bravery.
And that in itself is a compelling reason to share these stories. And I am not the only one who believes that.
Let me pull back the curtain a bit. This is one of the more solemn and emotional ceremonies that the staff here at Rideau Hall have the privilege of organizing. It begins with your stories and the citations that we will soon hear. Each word has been thoughtfully and painstakingly chosen to reflect what you went through. And it ends with all of you gathering here in this room, for which we are eternally grateful. All of us—every member of the Rideau Hall team, every person who has been in contact with you and your families—we know what you have done and what you have endured. You have touched us with your actions and have inspired us with your compassion.
It is you—your modesty, your consideration, your empathy, your bravery—who leave an indelible mark on this place, and on all of us.
We will not soon forget what you have done for your friends and neighbours, and for complete strangers. You have shown that every life is worth protecting and you have acted in remarkable ways to help preserve lives. As you well know, every life is sacred.
Today, we share your stories, with each other and with all Canadians, to show that bravery and courage and selflessness and caring are not ethereal traits. We present you with these insignia as evidence of what people are capable of when put to the ultimate test.
There is just one more thing to add: on behalf of everyone here, I thank you.