On Remembrance Day we take time to reflect on the sacrifices of those who have served in Canada’s military.
Foremost in the minds of most Canadians are the great world conflicts of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.
From Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge and the Somme in the first war to the actions at Dieppe, Juno Beach and the Liberation of Holland, the sacrifices of those generations were great, and we must always remember their service to Canada.
However, Canada’s military involvement has not been limited to those conflicts.
From the dawn of our Dominion, Canada was there when the call to arms was sounded.
From 1899-1902 some 7,000 Canadians—including 12 brave female nurses—served in the South African/Boer War—Canada’s first overseas conflict.
2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the start of the Korean War (1950-53). One of the definitive battles of that war was the Battle of Kapyong. After Allied troops successfully pushed back invading North Korean forces, an army of 700,000 Chinese soldiers poured over the border into Korea. To continue their offensive push south, Chinese troops had to travel through the Kapyong Valley. Standing in their way were Australia’s 3rd Royal Regiment and Manitoba’s Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. After the Australians took heavy casualties they were forced to withdraw, leaving only several hundred PPCLI to hold the line. The Canadians held out all night, even calling in an air strike on their own position. In the end, this small group of soldiers from Manitoba successfully halted the massive Chinese advance. More than 26,000 Canadians served in the Korean conflict, and 516 gave their lives.
After the September 11th terror attacks on the United States, more than 40,000 Canadians served in the war in Afghanistan (2001-2014). In 2006, Canadian Forces played a leading role in Operation Medusa: an action to establish control over the dangerous Taliban controlled Kandahar Province. The 15-day Canadian-led offensive was the most significant land battle ever undertaken by NATO forces. As they had in WWI, WWII and Korea, Canadians played an outsized roll in the conflict, with 158 dead and many more wounded.
Throughout our history, Canadian troops have consistently punched above their weight. In many major battles weeks or months of stalemate were broken only when the strains of Canadian bagpipes were heard floating over the trenches.
In battle after battle, inch by tenacious, muddy inch, Canadian soldiers took back ground that others had lost—and the world took notice.
Canadian troops have also led peacekeeping efforts all over the world: Cambodia, Cyprus, Egypt, the Persian Gulf, Rwanda, Syria, the Balkans, Congo, East Timor, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Haiti, Somalia, and most recently Mali.
Canadian troops were also involved in the fight to free Iraq from ISIS.
Anyone who wears a uniform makes a sacrifice and bears the wounds of their commitment to freedom and peace.
As do their families.
We owe them a debt of gratitude. We owe them our freedom. May we never take it for granted.
Thank you to all those who have served Canada. Today, we remember you all.