One hundred years ago – on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – the First World War finally came to a close. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars.
For those who lived a century ago, this moment marked the end of a long, painful and devastating chapter in our history.
Much changed in the world following the war. Canada, for one, emerged with greater independence and a new standing among nations.
But it was all achieved at a terrible cost. 66,000 killed. 172,000 wounded. The sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform – and by their families and loved ones here in Canada – were immense.
Canadians fought bravely through the mud and the horror of war. Together they formed some of the most effective units on the Western Front. And as such they earned the respect and gratitude of all.
A century later, we remember. And to this day, we have a tradition. We wear the poppy. A flower that thrived in the battlefields of Flanders.
I was a student in Wales in my teenage years when I first visited the fields of Flanders. I will never forget.
I have just returned from Belgium where I honoured those who served and who fell in battle.
Here in Canada, on Remembrance Day, it is important that we pause. We stand in silence.
We honour those who have served our country – and those who continue to serve – in times of war, conflict and peace.
At this time, we give thanks to the 2 million Canadians who have worn a military uniform, from Confederation to the present.
We think of all those who have been injured, in body and in mind. • We remember those who have given their lives.
We’re also grateful to their families, who have suffered losses, and who have been so strong.
I am very proud to be part of the military family. As Commander-in-Chief, I have the privilege of visiting with members across Canada and abroad, and of wearing the uniform and symbols that make our country proud.
On this 100th anniversary of the Armistice, marking the end of the First World War, let us pay tribute to our veterans and military members. Let us celebrate them as national heroes.
And let us honour their bravery and their sacrifice by working together for a more peaceful world.
Today and always.
Lest we forget.