Order of Military Merit Investiture Ceremony
Rideau Hall, Friday, December 2, 2011
Good morning and welcome to Rideau Hall.
First, allow me to say that it is an honour to be here with you to celebrate your accomplishments. Your careers have taken you across Canada and around the world. You have helped so many people and defended the values that this country holds dear.
All of you here and so many of your comrades go above and beyond the call of duty, a common trait among Canadian servicemen and women that dates back generations.
In fact, our military history is filled with examples of Canadians who have fought valiantly for their country, who have accepted the responsibility of protecting their comrades-in-arms, and who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that our soldiers are supported.
Throughout the centuries, Canadians have proven their resolve in the face of terrible danger. We have fought historic battles and built our national identity and pride on the sacrifice and bravery of the men and women who serve our country with steadfast determination.
During my time as governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada, I have seen how valued and deeply respected the members of the Canadian Forces are by Canadians and by our partners overseas.
Recently, I had the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those Canadians who served in Libya. These brave men and women were instrumental in the success of that mission.
And last year, I visited Afghanistan, where I was proud to see how much Canadians have added to the communities there. What I saw went beyond safety and security. Canadian Forces’ members were helping to rebuild the country; they were acting as goodwill ambassadors for Canada; and they were giving Afghans new opportunities to realize a better life for themselves and their families.
Since then, I have seen Canadian soldiers in action, in the North and on our coasts. I have met with veterans and with military families. I have been humbled to represent Canadians on such occasions as Remembrance Day. And I have welcomed members of the Canadian Forces here to Rideau Hall and been honoured to invest them into the Order of Military Merit.
I am pleased to do so again.
Let me speak for a moment on merit. The motto of the Order, “Service before Self,” is fitting, as every single member has shown that being a member of the Canadian Forces is not a job, but a calling. They have gone above and beyond all expectations and have brought great honour to this country.
And now you stand alongside others in the Order of Military Merit who have displayed excellence not only as members of the Canadian Forces, but also as Canadian citizens.
My predecessor, General Georges P. Vanier, once said: “We should never underestimate the contribution a soldier makes as [a] citizen.”
Though your heart belongs to the Canadian Forces, to the men and women who work to make this world a better place, you are first and foremost Canadians. And your contributions to this country both in and out of uniform can never be properly measured.
Thank you for all that you do and congratulations on being invested into the Order of Military Merit.