Launch of the National Poppy Campaign
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Rideau Hall, Monday, October 25, 2010
It is truly an honour for me to be with you to launch the Royal Canadian Legion’s National Poppy Campaign.
Since 1921, poppies have reminded us of countless stories of brave men and women who left home to sacrifice their lives for our country.
These stories tell of thousands who willingly fought in the trenches of the Western Front and took the ridge at Vimy.
They recall those who protected the skies over London; preserved supply routes in the North Atlantic; defended the Commonwealth’s holdings in the South Pacific; stormed the beaches of Normandy; pressed the enemy back in Italy; and liberated the Netherlands.
They tell of those who endangered themselves to care for the wounded and heal the sick so our troops could regain their strength and fight anew.
They share how so many answered the call to protect the western world against the spread of conflicts in Korea and beyond.
They speak of those who boldly wore the blue beret to keep peace around the world.
And they remind us that these stories continue to unfold today, as our men and women are fighting to secure a world tormented by terrorism.
Many of you share these stories. They continue to bring tears to your eyes as you remember those who did not return. They continue to cause your hearts to swell with pride as you see the peace your service helped forge and sustain. And they are what motivate you to ensure that Canadians never forget.
As a life-long student and educator, I am so pleased that bursaries are awarded from the Poppy Trust Funds to assist children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Canadian ex-service personnel to pursue higher learning. This will help to ensure that future generations continue to learn about where we have come from as a nation, and the sacrifices made for our freedoms.
I am truly proud and humbled to wear this poppy. Your stories are the ones I will continue to share with my children and my grandchildren. Your stories are the ones I will continue to tell at home and abroad. As commander-in-chief, I will work hand-in-hand with you, so that Canadians never forget the service and sacrifice of those who went before us to bring peace.
To borrow the familiar words of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, our duty is to catch the torch thrown from failing hands and hold it high. We must not break faith with those who died.
“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row.”
We must remember them. We will remember them.
On Remembrance Day, I invite Canadians everywhere to proudly wear the poppy next to their hearts.