FTLComm - Tisdale - November 11, 2000


Each year we pay our respects and listen to the stories of wars and valiant deeds from what is becoming a more and more distant past. Today I want to share with you my thoughts on this remembrance day, not of the past but of the present.




The history of our young country is not that much more than a century and during that time people from our land have taken up the challenge of serving their country. Many of them were lost in those conflicts and many more would have their lives altered and shortened by their traumatic experiences.



stand ready
to do their countries bidding

At the turn of the century there was a contingent of Canadians who went to South Africa, then came the calamity that is referred to as the First World War. A small contingent of Canadians dashed off to Russia as the civil war raged their and volunteers found themselves in loosing battles in the Spanish Civil war. For Canada the Second World War began not in Poland but with a small force trapped and captured in China and then the conflict of the century took place on the seas, on the land and in the air. Only four years after the war in Europe ended the communist take over of Korea began and Canadians were there. As the battle of Den Ben Phu ended France's control of South East Asia, Canadian soldiers and diplomats were out trying to assist in the peace process that became the prelude to yet another war. In 1958 Israel and its neighbours got into a miserable mix up and Canadian forces were immediately volunteered to establish peace and they did so with honour, just as they would do in Cyprus, then after the Yom Kippur war Canadians would stand guard over the Golan, Canadians would go to help and be dishonoured in Somalia, would go and have the world ignore them as they discovered the approaching massacres in Rwanda, Canadians would be there in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo. They would take up their weapons in Kuwait and in God forsaken places like East Timor.




Each time our people have served and put their lives in jeopardy, they did so for their own reasons, sometimes it was out of deep patriotism, but more often than not, it was a chance for adventure, a dare to be involved in history. But, ultimately we have to accept that fact that their efforts have had real and tangible results in our world here and now. Time after time, life after precious life has been lost but not wasted. Sixteen days from today Canadians across this country will go to the poling stations to cast their ballots to keep, or change, the government of the country. We will be able to do that peacefully and assured that the traditions of our country will be maintained because of the determination and actions of the few who have over the span of our country's history accepted duty and committment.



know who
we are

But the legacy goes far beyond our democratic traditions. We Canadians, we few people who live in this often frozen land, know who we are and what we as a people stand for because our soldiers made us a people, more than a collection of ethnic groups but a people who have experienced a common loss in the development of a common identity. Before the First World War our country did not even exercise foreign relations, but left our international responsibilities to the British Foreign office. But by mid war, we the People of Canada were demanding leadership of our own forces and when the war ended we the people of Canada demanded sovereignty and got it, with the world's recognition that we did as much or more to bring an end to that horrific conflict.



that little
red leaf

When World War II came into being the Allies were initially the British, the French and the Canadians. We stood against the Fascist Italy and Germany and our people were there on French soil as the German army kicked us from the beaches. Canada and Canadians defined themselves by their people's exploits in World War II and that legacy is ours and that of our children. We are who we are and that little red leaf on a back pack is respected world wide.



went to
to make

For the fifty - five years since the ending of World War II the United Nations roles as a international body attempting to forge world peace has had Canadians, well trained, disciplined and honest, ready to serve the world, time after time, in situations that no other country would consider. We have been successful and we have failed, but we have developed our CanadianNess from those exploits, from those blue hats and white vehicles, those brave few who went to wars to make peace. General MacKenzie is a genuine world hero for his admirable conduct in Bosnia and humanity, not just Canadians, are proud to count him among us.



to us

This remembrance day, recognise the dead and those who served, but also understand what they did lives on and on, far beyond the moment of their lives, it is their legacy to us and to those who will follow us.