Presentation of Decorations for Bravery
The Citadelle, Québec, Monday, February 22, 2016
Welcome all of you to the Citadelle of Québec. What a fitting place to honour so many very courageous individuals.
Because it was here in this very building that my predecessor, the Earl of Athlone, hosted Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and William Lyon Mackenzie King to discuss ways to win the Second World War.
And how was the war won?
Well, one thing is certain: the war would not have been won without the incredible bravery and courage of those who served.
Now, I’m well aware that the courage we’ve gathered to recognize today occurred in peacetime, not wartime.
But doesn’t that make your respective acts of bravery even more remarkable?
Each of you was faced with an emergency situation very suddenly, without warning.
One moment, you were going about your business.
The next, you were called to act.
You answered that call.
It’s extraordinary, to learn of your selflessness and courage under pressure.
You helped a person or people in dire need. What could be more important than that?
Some of you helped complete strangers. What could be more admirable?
None of you asked for this honour, or to be called heroes. Indeed, you would say you only did what anyone in your shoes would do.
But the fact is very few of us know how we would respond in such dangerous situations as you faced.
In your case, we do know. That’s why you’re being recognized with these decorations for bravery today.
This is such a special ceremony. Besides being an occasion to recognize bravery, this is an opportunity for recipients to meet and to speak with those who have been affected by the events that brought you here today.
Today, we have a chance to glimpse all that has been gained through these courageous, compassionate acts.
And today, we also remember those who did not make it, who are not able to be here with us.
The Decorations for Bravery are symbolic of our very best selves, as Canadians and as people.
We have a long history of helping each other in this country, and you will always have a special place within this history.
It is a privilege to present these decorations as a mark of our respect and gratitude for your great courage.
On behalf of all Canadians, thank you.