Andrea Horwath : Remembrance Day 2015

On behalf of New Democrats, I’m honoured to rise to share a few remarks about next week’s Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Next week, our nation observes Remembrance Day. As that happens, Canadians will be taking part in ceremonies at local war memorials, Legion halls, cenotaphs. Rain or shine, our country will come together to recognize the contributions and sacrifices that our veterans and all of our servicewomen and men have made in the defence of our country and in defence of our shared values and freedoms.

Some of our veterans will march, others will be assisted by former comrades or family members, but as the clock reaches the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, they will all be at attention as the Last Post is played. As those familiar notes sound in all corners of our province and our country, we will all turn our minds back to a time that is barely imaginable for us today. This was a time when young women and men were sent to places that they had never heard of or even imagined—places that now stand in infamy with names that are seared into our national memory: Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, Juno Beach, Ortona, Korea and, more recently, Afghanistan. There are peacekeeping missions as well, missions like Bosnia and Rwanda.

This was a time when young men and women, and sometimes children, left their families behind, abandoned their textbooks or postponed their careers, and went off to fight and often to die in the service of our country. When confronted with the enormity of what was demanded of these soldiers and the harrowing price that so many paid, the scale of their sacrifice is truly humbling. Often, the depictions of war and peacekeeping missions alike show images of acts of incredible courage. But what we don’t see are the invisible scars—the psychological wounds that our veterans will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

War is not glamorous. It leaves behind great human devastation. Men, women and children are its victims. It is our responsibility, each and every time we send servicemen and women into active duty, to support them every step of the way, especially when they return home. Our words in remembrance of our fallen soldiers and those who have returned home from the horrors of war are weak and empty if they are not accompanied by the will to ensure that their sacrifices are remembered through our actions and our deeds.

In the last stanza of the famous poem In Flanders Fields—which, in fact, celebrated its 100-year anniversary this year—John McCrae calls on the reader not to break faith with those who died, and he passes the torch to future generations to continue the struggle. This is the struggle to build a better world for our children and our grandchildren. It rests on all of us, all Canadians, not to break faith with that commitment.

Thanks to Canada’s veterans, so many of us and our children will never have to live through the scourge of war. We owe them so very much. We can never actually repay that debt. We can only hope to be equal to their sacrifice, both in life and in death. On November 11, New Democrats commit ourselves to remembering—remembering those who have served in our past and remembering those who serve today. We honour them all. We will remember them.

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