Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable senators, this week is Veterans’ Week. When we join with Canadians from coast to coast to coast to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women who served, and continue to serve this country, and to remember all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
More than 1.5 million Canadians fought during the two world wars, the Korean conflict and in Afghanistan. Ultimately more than 117,000 paid the highest price to protect our freedom.
This week, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, will unveil a commemorative plaque in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Sharpe, a member of Parliament and soldier who fought in the battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. As our friend, former senator and Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, told us, Colonel Sharpe was also the first Canadian politician to take his own life as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder. This commemorative plaque will be installed next to the statue of Lieutenant-Colonel George Harold Baker, the only member of Parliament killed in combat during the First World War.
Colleagues, I hope each of us will take the opportunity on Remembrance Day, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, to pay homage to our Canadian veterans and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
I would like to close with the words of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae of Guelph, Ontario. I believe he was writing a homage to a friend of his who had just died on the battlefield, In Flanders Fields. It appears to be particularly pertinent this year on the eve of the one-hundredth anniversary of the armistice of the First World War. I am reminded of the following words in particular:
“To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.”
This week is not only an opportunity for us to be grateful for the sacrifices made by our veterans, but it is also a time to commit ourselves to building a better world. This is the challenge they left for us, and it is our duty to meet it.