We think today of the more than 650,000 Canadians who served in the First World War, the over 66,000 who never came home, the more than 172,000 who returned wounded and the countless others who made it back seemingly unscathed. In reality they spent a lifetime carrying invisible scars that never left them.
We think today of the Veterans of the Second World War, and those for whom time stopped on those bloody battlefields. We think of the remarkable contributions they made in the Pacific and while defending Hong Kong, during the Dieppe Raid and the Italian Campaign, on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy, while liberating Belgium and the Netherlands, and while battling on the Atlantic.
We think today of the courageous Canadians who years later would serve in the Korean War, dispatched to the other side of the world where the duty was dangerous, the terrain harsh and unforgiving, and the mission to help UN forces restore peace in the “Land of the Morning Calm.”
And we think today of the thousands of others who stood on the shoulders of Veterans and members past, in the Persian Gulf, in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, and in countless other military, peace support and humanitarian operations all over the world, in times of war as in times of peace, and distinguished themselves by discharging their duties with honour and dignity and full respect for the red and white flag on their shoulder.
We think of them today because all of them, at one time, proudly wore the uniform. And all of them, today and every day, are worthy of the ceremonies we hold in their honour and deserving of the gratitude we reserve for them—even if none of them would ever ask for it.
As we recall that sacrifice, we remember that it was 75 years ago that the Netherlands was liberated from German occupation. 75 years ago that Victory in Europe and Victory in Japan were declared. And 75 years ago that the Second World War came to an end, ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity, freedom and democracy, that we are still so fortunate to enjoy today.
We are the beneficiaries of what those young and brave Canadians did. And everything we have today we owe to the sacrifices made by those who fought in the First and Second World Wars, in Korea, in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan, and all who have since followed in their footsteps to defend, as members of the Canadian Armed Forces, what was so hard-earned by those who came before them.
So today, as we look down to the poppies on our lapels, as we hold in our hearts and minds the memories of our war dead and those we have lost since, as we honour our Veterans, let us always be thankful to them for seizing the torch passed on by their predecessors and continuing the long and proud tradition of holding that torch high.
Member of Parliament