Visit to the Saskatchewan War Memorial
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Regina, Monday, September 12, 2011
Sharon and I are pleased to be here. For us to be able to honour Canadians who sacrificed everything to defend the ideals we hold dear is so important. We are also delighted at the opportunity to meet with veterans, men and women who have served overseas and appreciate the freedoms that we enjoy.
When I became governor general, it was with the knowledge that I would become commander-in-chief, and I relished the opportunity to honour and to meet with members of our Canadian Forces, both past and present. Over the past year, I have been privileged to witness the bravery and the professionalism of our servicemen and women.
One specific incident stands out in my mind. Just last month, Sharon and I were visiting Nunavut. Tragically, while we were in Resolute Bay, there was a horrific plane crash that claimed 12 lives. We were stunned and saddened by this tragedy, and will never forget the scenes of sorrow and of courage that we witnessed. The men and women of the Canadian Forces were among the first on the scene, using their training and skills to benefit others and to save lives. Canadians are truly fortunate to be able to call upon their service.
I recall a photo that was shown to me during my recent visit to Saskatchewan that illustrates your dedication perfectly.
The photo depicted an emerging situation at a school. Students and teachers were streaming out of the building, but one figure was going against the tide, heading with purpose towards the danger. This man was a police officer.
Those we remember here today—whether family, friend or comrade-in-arms—similarly gave selflessly to help those in need and to defend and serve their country.
And indeed, you know the importance of service, which has been ingrained in you from the very beginning of your military career. You understand the influence you can have, individually and collectively.
As Robert McClure, a medical missionary, once said: “One felt that the things that differentiated a true person as a human being was the reliability of their dedication to serving others.”
Canadians honour the commitment to service and to country by veterans and by members of the Canadian Forces who today protect our national interests at home and abroad. Throughout our history, so many lives have been lost, but the spirit of our men and women in uniform has never been broken.
Sharon and I have been delighted to meet veterans, but we have also been humbled to meet military families, including those who have lost loved ones. We cannot imagine their grief, but we can share in the pride that they feel for one who served Canada with distinction.
Every soldier has a story and through gatherings such as this, we are able to pass on those tales to the next generation. In this way, we will always remember the sacrifices that helped to build the country we know and love.