Mr. Speaker, “All these were honoured in their generations and were the glory of their times.” For me, that verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is inscribed on the walls of the Veterans Memorial Buildings here in Ottawa, captures the valour of the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country in uniform in our armed forces, who are the greatest of Canadians.
It is an honour today for me to speak on behalf of the leader of the official opposition and all Conservatives as we approach Remembrance Week. We honour veterans for the great sacrifices they have made in every mission and conflict in Canada's history.
We owe those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, those who have had their lives forever altered and their families who were left behind a debt that we can never fully repay. The instinct to honour our fallen is evident around our country, from Canada's first road of remembrance, established on Shelbourne Street in Victoria, B.C. in 1920, to the Crow's Nest Officers' Club, which was founded during the Second World War by Captain Rollo Mainguy of the Royal Canadian Navy in St. John's, Newfoundland.
Canadians strive to memorialize our fallen, honour those who fought and returned home and show our support for those who still serve our country in uniform today. Parliament Hill hosts one of the greatest memorials, the Room of Remembrance, which contains the records of Canada's fallen warriors. The names of every man and woman who has laid down their lives in service to Canada are logged in books of remembrance, and each day new pages are turned so Canadians can contemplate the sacrifice of those who gave their lives in service. Each page is a simple list that nonetheless tells a moving story of individuals from every part of our land who spared nothing to keep our country free and who sacrificed everything in defence of all that we cherish today.
The name of Sergeant Charles Albani Dominique Parent of Rimouski, Royal 22nd Regiment, appears on page 57 of the Korean War Book of Remembrance.
Charles Robert Loft of London, Ontario, a flying officer with 419 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, is on page 535 of the book that commemorates the Second World War.
Royal Navy Ordinary Seaman Sidney Macdonald Wheeler of Notre Dame Bay is found on page 204 of the Newfoundland Book of Remembrance.
Closer to home from me is Captain Nichola Goddard of Calgary, on page 219 of the In the Service of Canada Book of Remembrance. In Afghanistan, Nichola was the first Canadian female combat soldier since World War II to lay down her life in frontline combat.
Hailing from all regions of Canada and all branches of service, these and other courageous men and women represent only a fraction of the 120,000 Canadians who lost their lives protecting the freedoms they cherished and the country they loved.
They remind us of the importance of standing up for what is right and just and the need in a dangerous world to defend our values and freedoms. We must always strive to honour our fallen while showing our support and appreciation for our veterans and our men and women still serving in Canada's armed forces. All of them have served Canada with bravery, dedication and selflessness, and they paved the way for and now protect the peace we enjoy today.
Remembrance Day is also a time to reflect on the sacrifices of families who see their loved ones go into service. Many have lost husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. It is the terrible cost of war. We must always be mindful of the pain of loss and the need for support endured by the families left behind.
I want to read from a letter from the front that was sent by a Canadian soldier, Fred Adams of Ontario, who wrote this letter in May 1915 to his aunt. It reads:
This is the first day they have allowed us to write letters since this battle began and I have no doubt you are anxious to hear from me. Well, we have lost an awful lot of our fellows, and to those of us who are left it seems just a miracle that any of us came through alive.... About two brigades of Canadians held about five times as many Germans. It would have done you good to see the boys. I did not see one show the white feather, but each had a set face and went right at it.... It was just a nightmare, a hell.... We could see the boys falling everywhere, and it was just awful to hear them cry out.... We have lost two of our guns and there are only eleven of us left out of the section. Well all the boys did the best they could and I for one am ready to do it again, only I hope the war will soon end, for the sake of the poor parents, wives and sweethearts of all the soldiers. Still I thank God that I am spared and always pray that He will soon end the war. With Love. FRED.
Sadly, Fred Adams was killed in action just days after this letter was sent to his family.
Letters such as Fred's are among the hundreds of thousands that came home from the front to worried loved ones at home. They are vivid reminders of the real people, with their humanity, their courage and their dedication, who are the reasons we enjoy the freedoms we do today.
It is a privilege of the generations that have received liberty as our legacy to honour the sacrifices of those who secured it for us at so steep a cost. It is our duty and their due that we pay tribute to their sacrifice by fixing their service and their sacrifices in our remembrance and by ensuring that we always cherish and uphold the very freedoms they fought for.
We will remember them.