Tree Planting in Honour of the 100th Anniversary of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
Rideau Hall, Thursday, September 18, 2014
Welcome, all of you, to Rideau Hall, home of the people of Canada and home to Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
I call this your home because it was here that one of your first chapters was written, beginning with the very name you carry.
Princess Patricia, daughter of then-governor general Lord Connaught, recognized how important it was to create an elite force of soldiers for the war effort. She gave her name to the regiment and designed the colours that soldiers would carry with them overseas. In her own words, Princess Patricia would “follow the fortunes of you all with the deepest interest.”
Barely one month after its formation, the PPCLI was sent into battle. And with that began your long and storied history.
You and your forebears, those first members of the regiment who became known as “The Originals,” have earned countless accolades and medals, including three Victoria Crosses, the country’s highest military honour.
The Patricias who have served—from the First World War through to Afghanistan, from Passchendaele to Vimy Ridge and beyond—have earned our respect and captured our imaginations with their bravery and valour. Canadians are proud of all those who embody duty, honour and service.
As commander-in-chief, I am fortunate to represent you, our men and women in uniform. It is my distinct honour.
I am not the only person here with an intimate knowledge of this special privilege. The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, colonel-in-chief of PPCLI and former governor general and commander-in-chief, has supported the Canadian Armed Forces—and specifically this regiment—throughout her career. I have much to learn from her example.
In fact, a month after I became governor general in 2010, I had the opportunity to present Mme Clarkson with the Vimy Award, which recognizes Canadians who have made significant contributions to the defence and security of Canada, and to the preservation of its democratic values. Let me share with you her words on that occasion: “We must respect the people who have chosen this as a way of life. We ask them to meet challenges, danger and death for us. We must support them, not by facile sentimentality[,] but by informed understanding of what it is they do because we as a nation have asked them to do it.”
I have tried to emulate the high standards she established, and I continue to offer my own support to all of you.
Today, here on the Rideau Hall grounds, we are bringing your 100-year history full circle. The tree we are planting today is symbolic of the one selected by Princess Patricia to create the colours of what you so lovingly call the Ric-a-dam-doo.
I hope that this tree will remain standing for another century, so future generations can stand in its shade and remember the stories and service of those who served, fought and died for our country as members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.