My dad was a navy veteran.
Growing up he used to say…
"Son -- you haven't paid your debt to the past until you have left a future indebted to yourself".
I used to wonder what he meant by that. Standing here today, I understand.
In a few short days we will gather together, heads bowed, in sombre and solemn remembrance to honour the sacrifices Canadian soldiers have made in the two great wars, in Korea, in Afghanistan and in numerous peacekeeping missions.
As the sound of the Last Post touches our ears, and the familiar words of Colonel John McCrae’s memorial poem In Flanders Fields once again touch our hearts, our thoughts will be filled with sorrow for those lost on foreign battlefields – be it on land, in the air or at sea.
The contribution Canadians have made in these historic conflicts solidified our reputation as a nation that doesn’t look for fights, but will not shirk from them.
Those who answered the call to serve defined Our Canada… known across the globe as a strong, peaceful and multicultural country.
Our Canada… a nation that stands up in defense of freedom.
Our Canada....a free nation...a privilege earned by the soldier and then donated to us all.
It is our duty to remember how they died….
And the sacrifices they made
But it is equally important to remember… [Pause] …remember how they lived… with duty, selflessness and honour.
And to reflect on those who came home… our glorious veterans
Let us pay tribute to how they went on living…
and the values they represent…
Values forged in the despair of war
Values learned on battlefields…
Then brought home to build this great province, this great nation
How they lived…
Last week, I attended the funeral of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in my beloved hometown of Hamilton.
This young man’s life was taken so callously, because he represented the very ideals that define Canada – strength, tolerance, peace
Those of us in attendance, and indeed an entire nation, were given the unique privilege to hear about Cpl. Cirillo’s life
To learn about a proud single father who adored his little boy… Marcus
… A man with an infectious smile and a huge heart
… a soldier who found the greatest honour in representing his regiment – The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada – while guarding our country’s most treasured memorial
Reflecting on how they lived is truly the essence of Remembrance Day…
… to celebrate rich lives lost or forever changed in the defence of the freedom and ideals we cherish. There simply is no greater sacrifice.
They believed in a cause worth fighting for. They believed in a greater good… and that these endeavours, rife with great peril, had a purpose for future generations
What a great lesson for us all -- especially each and every one of us who has been granted the privilege to serve in this place to make a difference for future Ontario generations
To make lives better for future generations we must overcome adversity, and emulate the hard won values our soldiers have forged for us to follow
We are indebted to those who served, both living and dead, and it is our duty, as Lieutenant Colonel McCrae reminds us:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
On behalf of the Liberal caucus, Lest We Forget
Not only how they died…
But how they lived.
For to live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.
So the question we should ask ourselves today is how will we live?
Let us resolve to leave a future indebted to ourselves, for that surely would be the best way to remember those who showed us how to live
It is also the best legacy we could possibly leave to our children and grandchildren
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