Remembrance Week was two weeks ago in Ontario. We gathered with veterans and members of the Royal Canadian Legion to pray and acknowledge the sacrifice of Canadians, who have courageously and valiantly defended our country.
I was able to join large crowds at Remembrance observances in Acton, Erin, Georgetown, Glen Williams, Aboyne, Salem, Fergus and Elora. There were also events in Belwood and Rockwood, which unfortunately, I was unable to attend. I want to express sincere thanks to everyone who helped to organize the cenotaph services and dinners, as well as everyone who participated.
This year is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, one of the costliest battles of The Great War. Lasting almost five months, Allied casualties were more than 600,000 in number, and over 24,000 Canadians perished. After this brutal battle of attrition was over, the Allies had only advanced about 13km along a 35km front. The tragic futility of war was never so clear.
The following was the message I wrote and presented at a number of the Remembrance observances I attended this year.
“I feel very honoured to join you, as we gather again to observe and remember.
“First of all, I want to express my appreciation to you, the Members of the Royal Canadian Legion, for your community service year round, but especially in the weeks leading up to November the 11th.
“You have our heartfelt thanks for all that you do for our veterans, and to ensure that Canadians never forget the sacrifices that they made to purchase our liberties and freedoms, democracy and justice, which together are the pillars of our beloved Canada.
“My wife Lisa and I joined the Legion 22 years ago as associate members, and we feel privileged to be part of your fellowship. Our membership honours Lisa’s dad, the late Ted McCabe, who volunteered with the Royal Canadian Navy in June of 1944, at the age of 17. In the photos we’ve seen, he’s wearing his Navy uniform, and he looks just like a kid.
“Our youngest son, Dean, is 17 this year: the same age his grandfather was when he joined the Navy during World War II.
“When we think of that, it really hits home, and we can understand better how young so many of our soldiers, sailors and airmen really were.
“We pay solemn tribute to all of them: those who made the supreme sacrifice, as well as those who came home. We honour all the men and women in a Canadian uniform, whether they served a century ago in the Great War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Cold War, in one of our United Nations’ peacekeeping missions, or in the dangerous missions of recent years in the Balkans, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
“Lest we forget.”
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Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott can be reached at 1-800-265-2366. His website is tedarnottmpp.com.