Presentation of Military Valour and Meritorious Service Decorations
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Rideau Hall, Friday, June 10, 2011
It is with great pride and respect that I welcome you to Rideau Hall today.
This ceremony is an opportunity to recognize your outstanding dedication to the principles that make this country great. Your commitment to serving others and to the basic rights and freedoms we enjoy in Canada is truly an example to us all.
Allow me to quote my predecessor, General Georges Vanier, who once said: “The overpowering strength of a free people is the readiness voluntarily to defend not merely themselves, not only their allies, but the very democratic principles they cherish.”
When you enlisted in the Canadian Forces, each of you demonstrated that readiness. And today, each of you is here because you have lived up to your ideals and served these principles in an extraordinary manner.
Whether serving overseas in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, or in Haiti, or helping others at home in Canada on domestic missions, you have done so with great distinction. Your achievements are as leaders and mentors, soldiers and technicians, rescuers and caregivers, and together you have brought great credit to the Canadian Forces and to your country.
I also know that sometimes, despite the importance of your work, much of what you do on a daily basis goes unnoticed and underappreciated. That is why it is such a pleasure to recognize you for your outstanding service today.
This honour extends to your families and to your loved ones, who in their own way have also accepted the demands of service: the long hours, the tough and relentless schedules, and the constant need for flexibility and strength.
Canadians have a lengthy tradition of service and of sacrifice for our ideals. Ninety-seven years ago, at the outset of the First World War, Prime Minister Robert Borden spoke of the “fortitude, the determination and the resourcefulness” that would carry our nation through that terrible conflict.
The same can be said of your qualities as members of the present-day Canadian Forces. As a result, you have helped us to navigate new challenges in the 21st century.
As governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada, my goal is to help bring about a smarter, more caring nation. We seek a nation that develops the talent of its people and uses their knowledge to improve the human condition—at home and around the world.
I know that you also seek a smarter, more caring world, where justice and equality prevail. And as the human face of Canada in so many troubled regions, members of the Canadian Forces have a critical role to play.
Last November, I travelled to Afghanistan, where many of you have worked to support security, the rule of law and the strengthening of civil society. As the transition is made to a new training mission in Afghanistan, your contributions will continue to be essential, no matter where you serve.
And as we have seen in domestic operations, those who don the uniform exemplify the ideal of service to country. Through your engagement in search and rescue missions, security operations or other patrols, we are truly fortunate to be able to count on men and women of your calibre.
Today, as you receive your decorations for military valour and meritorious service, your responsibility is made even greater. You must never underestimate the power of your example as role models, because you embody the depth of our commitment to the common good.
These decorations are a testament to your courage, ingenuity and quiet determination, which have led you to fulfill your duty in remarkable ways. And so it is with great pleasure that I thank you for your efforts on behalf of all Canadians.
Your example of service and devotion is an inspiration to us all.