Mr. Speaker, we are rising in the House here today to pay special tribute to the memory of John “Jack” Babcock, the last veteran of the first world war, who passed away on February 18, 2010, at the remarkable age of 109.
Mr. Babcock was born at the dawn of the 20th century on July 23, 1900, in Kingston, Ontario. A member of a very large family, he showed his determination very early on in life. As soon as he turned 15, he joined the 146th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in Sydenham, near Kingston. He was sent to Valcartier for basic training.
Because he was only 16, he was assigned to the reserve battalion known as the Boys Battalion or Young Soldiers Battalion. He was then sent to England for further training until he was old enough to fight, that is, 19. However, the war ended before he reached the age required to be sent to the front.
No one doubts Mr. Babcock's courage and determination. He himself said that he would have fought if he had had the chance.
That courage and determination exemplify all men and women who have served in the armed forces. That is precisely why we are rising here today. We would be remiss in failing to recognize the sense of duty shown by anyone, including Mr. Babcock, who decides to join the armed forces, and face the worst obstacles and most terrible situations in order to fulfill their mission with valour.
Whether on peacekeeping missions or helping people whose countries have been ravaged by war or disaster, the armed forces must always be able to count on the strength of character of its men and women in order to meet the expectations of their fellow Canadians, as well as local populations.
To honour Mr. Babcock's memory is to honour the memory of all men and women who have chosen to join the armed forces and serve their fellow citizens.
It is also to honour the families and friends who have supported them, as well as all veterans.