Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today on behalf of the New Democratic Party to reflect on the importance of Veterans Week. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, members of Parliament will join our constituents and other citizens to pay respects to Canada's sons and daughters who paid the ultimate price while serving their country.
In my case, I will participate with armed forces personnel in my community, with members of the Royal Canadian Legion, in particular with veterans and members of Scotia Branch Legion, of which I am honoured to be an honorary member, and other veterans from across Nova Scotia in laying our wreaths and paying our respects to those who sacrificed their lives in service to their country and to the values of freedom and peace.
Whether in World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, the Gulf war or countless peace missions, we are indebted to our men and women who have risked and who, in many cases, lost their lives to defend democracy.
We take this opportunity to pay tribute to our first nations veterans who fought and died, and who have yet to receive full and proper recognition for their service in Canada's armed forces.
Last week when I placed this poppy on my lapel I walked from this Chamber under the Peace Tower to the National War Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I paused to pay my respects and pledged my continued commitment and the commitment of my party to the pursuit and defence of peace.
However, I did not stop there. I continued down Elgin Street to Confederation Park and repeated this same pledge before our National Aboriginal Veterans Memorial.
No words today can adequately convey our indebtedness to all the veterans of this nation. The poppy I bear on my lapel I wear with humility and with pride.
As we stand together to express our gratitude to our veterans who have served with dignity, we must also express our appreciation to those they left behind, to their mothers and sisters and other family members, to their neighbours who worked to support the war effort on the home front, in the factories, in the fields and in the hospitals while also caring for their families.
On Remembrance Day we make a special point of expressing our heartfelt thanks but throughout the year and throughout our lifetime we must never forget. Parliamentarians and a grateful nation must never forget. It is the only way to ensure that the sacrifices of our veterans were not in vain. It is the only way to ensure that freedom and lasting peace become a reality. Let us never forget.