Mr. Speaker, I am honoured today to stand in the House to pay tribute to Canada's honoured veterans on behalf of the New Democratic Party, our leader, and in fact, Canadians across the country.
This year marks the commemoration of the 115th anniversary of the start of the Boer War, the 100th anniversary of World War I, and the 75th anniversary of World War II.
I cannot help but think of some of the names of individuals who have served. Captain Paul Triquet earned the VC in Italy. Herb Peppard, part of the Devil's Brigade, from of Truro, Nova Scotia, served valiantly with the American allies as well. Tommy Prince, an aboriginal veteran, served not just in World War II in the Devil's Brigade but also in Korea.
Last night the minister and I were at a wonderful event for Helen Rapp, who has, unfortunately, passed on. She was a young woman who lied about her age so that she could serve her country in World War II. Last night the City of Ottawa and Mayor Jim Watson honoured her with a street named after her. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that if I had the money, I would buy a house on that street, because she really was an amazing dynamo of woman.
There are other people. Jack Ford, of Newfoundland and Labrador, was the only allied person to survive the Nagasaki bombing in Japan during World War II. He lived to be 90 years old, up in Newfoundland. There are people like Louise Richard, who served in the first Gulf War; Captain Nichola Goddard, the first woman to die for Canada in combat; Ed Carter-Edwards, of Ontario, who survived the Buchenwald concentration camp as an airman serving his country; and many other people. These are just some of the names of the people who were willing to give up their lives for the sanctity of Canada and the sanctity of the free world.
I cannot tell members how proud I was when I woke up this morning and realized something I had not realized before. My father once told me that we immigrated to Canada because after being liberated from a prisoner of war camp, he said, “If they have a military like that, imagine what kind of country they come from”.
I stand in the House today as a representative of Nova Scotia. The Minister of Veterans Affairs is from a country that was liberated by Canadians. The official opposition critic is from a country that was liberated by Canadians and their allies. That is what Canada is all about.
Canada is a beacon of hope. Canada is a beacon of light. Right now, wherever our servicemen and women are when they are serving around the world, young people are looking up and saying, “I wonder what kind of country they come from”.
It is truly an honour to be able to pay our respects to the men and women who have given their lives. There are over 117,000 Canadians, buried in over 72 countries around the world, who fought for peace, freedom, and democracy. If anyone ever wanted to know whether their sacrifice was worth it, I am here, so it was well worth it for my family to come to Canada in that regard, although the Conservatives may not think that.
Every day I wake up and see that Canadian flag, and when I am in Ottawa and I see the national cenotaph, and I think how honoured I am to be in this great country.
Allow me to pay my respects to the great memory of Nathan Cirillo, a young man, 24 years old, with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Hamilton. No, he did not deserve to die. That man deserved to live a full and fruitful life, all the way into old age, and to look after his son. However, because of an act of violence, which was uncalled for, this man standing sentry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier gave his life for all of us. I know that everyone in the House of Commons, and all Canadians, will never ever forget that man's sacrifice.
Nor will they forget Patrice Vincent, who was in a parking lot with his friend, when a madman killed him with his vehicle. He had 28 years of service in the military. He was a well-decorated veteran and a soldier. To give up his life like that is just unconscionable.
We, as Canadians, thank them for their services. We thank them for their sacrifices, as we do all their brothers and sisters who have also given up their lives. We also consider their families, the invisible force behind the force. Without the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, and grandparents, they would not be able to do the job Canada asks them to do.
I salute the men and women who serve our country. I salute every one of their families. I salute, on behalf of a grateful nation, the cadets who one day may become military people. They are our future heroes.
As they say in the Legion:
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.