On Remembrance Day, Canadians honour fellow citizens who have made the “ultimate sacrifice”. Throughout Canada’s history, men and women have stood up for our values, our freedoms, and our way of life. They have accepted the risk of placing their own lives ‘on the line’ on behalf of their families, friends, neighbours and fellow Canadians. “At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…” every year, we thank all of our military Veterans and take a moment to remember the men and women who gave their lives standing up for our freedom and way of life.
Canadians fought in WWI (626,736 served 66,573 died); WWII (1,081,865 served 44,927 died); the Korean War (26,791 served 516 died and 1558 were wounded); the Gulf War (4074 served); and in Afghanistan (25,000 served on a rotational basis and 158 died).
Throughout our large riding of Crowfoot, remarkable numbers of constituents young and old attend events to commemorate Canada’s Veterans, particularly on Remembrance Day. Many Canadian military veterans live in our riding.
As your Member of Parliament, each year I deliver the Government of Canada’s Veterans’ Week message and lay the Remembrance Day Wreath at one or more of our local Cenotaphs. My speeches on these occasions recall and share the experience I had in 2008 representing Canada in France and Belgium to mark the 90th Anniversary of the End of the First World War.
In 2010, when I was the Chair of the Special Committee on Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan, I had the privilege of travelling to Afghanistan and met many of the 2,800 Canadians who were there at that time performing the difficult ‘hands-on’ work of Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan.
As well, I met numerous Afghanis, government officials, military personnel and local citizens. Afghanistan has been a nation in conflict for many decades. I could see in the eyes of the folks I met that they yearned for a time when they could live in peace – free of persecution and violence. Many spoke of concerns for their families and the hopes they had for future generations. Coming from our area of Alberta, my reaction to the state of life I saw in Afghanistan was that it was a prime example of what years ago, our Canadian military helped prevent from happening here at home, and across the Free World.
While the horrors of war must never be forgotten, we must also remember that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. We must never fail to defend it, whether at home or abroad.
I hope everyone will take part in one of the many Remembrance Day ceremonies in our community. And on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and our federal government, I wish to thank the men and women currently serving in the Canadian Armed Forces as well as all those who have served in the past. Lest we forget.