Visit with Members of the Governor General’s Foot Guards
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Ottawa, Friday, November 26, 2010
As your Colonel, I am especially pleased to be with you here today.
It gives me the opportunity to deepen the historical ties between my office and the Regiment. When I arrived at Rideau Hall on the day I was sworn in as Governor General, my very first official duty was to inspect the Guard of Honour that you were part of.
I have seen many of you at Rideau Hall during official events, wearing your trademark scarlet tunic and bearskin cap. And for this I want to thank you; this support is very important.
Ceremonial duties are one aspect of your responsibilities, and today I had the privilege of learning more about your role as infantry soldiers in the Canadian Forces.
Members of the Foot Guards volunteer, train and fight to make our country—and our world—more secure and free.
Looking around, I see people who are guided by important ideals. An ethos of self-sacrifice and great commitment are two defining qualities of a soldier.
You have given me significant insight into the role that the primary reserve force plays in the Canadian Forces, and all of its complexities and challenges.
As governor general, I am doing all I can to encourage Canada to see itself as a smart and caring nation. One component of this vision is encouraging all Canadians to achieve a greater level of public service, something for which the Regiment—and every member of the Canadian Forces—is so well known.
I am impressed by how you balance your commitments as reservists with work, school and family. This level of civic engagement is inspiring and sets an example for the rest of us.
Sir Winston Churchill coined the phrase “twice the citizen” when referring to reservists. You embody a very old tradition: that of the citizen-soldier, carrying out his or her civic duty, people on whom Canada has always been able to rely to ensure its defence, those who contribute to international forces, both in times of peace and in times of war.
The underlying theme for this weekend, “Old and New Veterans Coming Together,” highlights the fact that the Association and the Regiment is a family. You care about one another. You care about sacrifices members of the Regiment have made in the past and you care about passing the torch from one generation to the next. And I commend you for this.
On Remembrance Day, I had the honour of welcoming two of your own safely home from Afghanistan. On that day, I was touched by the sight of families being reunited after a long separation. Tonight, I am again reminded of the importance of family, both in the traditional and the regimental sense.
I am reminded of the profound sacrifice that will be made by those who are left behind to worry and manage the household while you are deployed. Commitment to a reserve unit also requires you to be away many weekends and summers, for training and other tasks. Your families have our sincerest appreciation for the support they give and the sacrifices they make.
Tonight, I had a chance to learn more about your history. And what a storied history the Regiment has had!
From its conception in 1872, to the North-West Rebellion and the battle at Cut Knife Hill—which marks its 125th anniversary this year—to two World Wars and the Afghan conflict: the Regiment has continuously demonstrated unwavering commitment and professionalism. You continue to train combat-ready troops so they can sustain and strengthen our country’s broader Forces in operations around the world.
Joining us here today are veterans who defended the values of freedom, justice and peace during the Second World War, as well as many veterans who served in Afghanistan, to whom I extend heartfelt greetings.
I am a great reader of history. I revel in the stories of the brave men and women who served and sacrificed to make Canada what it is today. I diligently pass their stories on to my children and grandchildren—who call me Grandpa Book—, so they can appreciate the price that was paid to secure their rights and freedoms.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to get to know all of you better. To listen to your stories. To meet your families. And to further appreciate your ongoing commitment to serve.
As your Colonel, I will continue working with you and helping you share the Regiment’s rich legacy with Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
Thank you for making me feel very welcomed as a new member of the Regimental Family on this important day.
Up the Guards!