Decoration Day at Newmarket Cemetery

NEWMARKET – Good afternoon. It is a privilege to be here with you today to honour our veterans for their courage, service and sacrifice as we mark the Newmarket Veterans Association’s 70th Decoration Day service.

Decoration Day serves as a reminder of the solemn responsibility we have to recognize the significant contributions our veterans have made throughout history to preserve and protect the values for which our nation stands.

Canada is a nation of peace, inclusion and acceptance. It’s these values which are our strength at home, and one of the greatest things we bring to the world. It is because of our veterans, their service and their sacrifice, that this vision of Canada endures.

The solemn responsibility of defending Canadian values is something I take very personally. My grandfather was a veteran, my dad was a veteran, and both my husband and I served as officers in the Air Force.

I know the critical importance of a country’s values – and I understand how quickly they can be taken away when we are not paying attention.  Defending the values of our nation and service to country is who I am at my core.

This year – 2018 –  marks the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI – the Great War. A war that was to have ended all wars.. but as we have seen on many occasions since 1918 peace is fragile and must never be taken for granted.

We are in a time of unprecedented global instability where we are witnessing fundamental shifts in our economic and financial frameworks, our trade relationships, our defence and security structures, and maybe even our concept of nation states and current international agreements and laws. As we navigate this time and envision the future – values will and do matter.

Canada, with our NATO allies  – have committed to defending the values of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law – to promoting stability and well being  – and of being united in the preservation of peace and security.

The power of John McCrae’s speech in Flanders fields is not only in the honouring of the sacrifice of those who gave their lives on the battlefield – but also in the command that it issues to the living ….

“Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw – the torch: Be yours to hold it high ….”

and also in the consequence of our failure to abide by that command – “If ye break faith with us who die – we shall not sleep though poppies grow in flanders fields.”

Our veterans have passed us the torch – we must honour their sacrifice and we must not break faith with them…we must be vigilant – in the defence – of the values for which our nation stands – at home and abroad.

Our veterans, have earned our utmost respect and gratitude.  As a government, we will continue to carry out our obligation to ensure our veterans receive the respect, support, care and economic opportunities they deserve.

This could not be done without the tireless efforts of organizations like the Newmarket Veterans Association. Your continued effort to recognize and honour veterans in our community ensures their legacy, and our legacy, as Canadians, lives on.

Finally, to the veterans we recognize here today… for your sacrifice, for our freedom, we thank you.