Launch of the 2015 National Poppy Campaign
Rideau Hall, Thursday, October 22, 2015
Thank you all for being here.
It is a great honour to wear the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s National Poppy Campaign.
The poppy is a very powerful symbol.
It symbolizes our debt to the more than 117,000 men and women who gave their lives for Canada.
It’s a symbol of sacrifice, of service to others, and of remembrance.
As governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada, one of my most important duties is to help Canadians remember.
This past year, I’ve had the privilege of commemorating some major milestones in our history, including the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic and the end of the Second World War.
In fact, while commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, I was reminded of how absolutely critical are the contributions of our veterans.
What brought this to mind was the memory of a conversation I had some years ago with the late Sir Martin Gilbert, perhaps the world’s leading Winston Churchill biographer.
At the time of our conversation, Sir Martin had just recently gained access to Churchill’s secret wartime diaries.
I asked him, “What did you learn from them that you didn’t already know?”
He replied: “I learned what a close thing it was.”
The outcome of the Battle of Britain was never guaranteed. If it weren’t for the contributions of those who fought the air war, things might have turned out very differently for the Allies.
The same goes for each of the conflicts Canada has engaged in over time.
We as Canadians have been able to count on the courage, loyalty and skill of our veterans.
We’ve been able to count on their willingness to serve and to make sacrifices.
We’ve been able to count on them—and on you, the veterans whom we’re so privileged to have with us at Rideau Hall today.
Our debt will remain, always.
Our duty is to remember, and to constantly rededicate ourselves to building a world that is smarter and more caring, more fair and just.
Each year when I wear the poppy on my lapel, close to my heart, I wear it with a deep sense of humility and gratitude.
I wear it for the thousands of men and women who died or were wounded in war.
I wear it in the hopes of a peaceful world, where such sacrifices need not be made.
To all of you in uniform: I thank you for your dedication to Canada.
And to everyone in this ballroom: let us never forget.