OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 11, 2012) - The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Associate Minister of National Defence issued the following statement today on Remembrance Day:
"When the guns fell silent on the eleventh day of the eleventh month 1918, the world sighed with relief that its bloodiest war was over, and prayed that it would never happen again. People rejoiced in peace, celebrated their survival, and turned to mourning their dead.
The First World War left a large hole in the fabric of Canada. At the time, we numbered a mere eight million people, yet nearly 620,000 served in the Canadian Forces. Of that number, more than 66,600 gave their lives and another 172,950 were wounded. Nearly one of every ten Canadians who fought in the war did not return, and those who did carried with them the physical and emotional scars of a terrible four years spent in a muddy hell.
The impact of the First World War - not only to those who served, but to their friends and families - was so wounding to the national psyche that, every year, we still pause to remember Canada's war dead at the moment the guns fell silent almost a hundred years ago.
For generations, people have gathered at memorials and cenotaphs, or paused elsewhere in silent prayer, as the clock strikes 11 a.m. on Remembrance Day. But why does Canada still remember, so far removed from The War to End All Wars?
Because there was a war after that - the Second World War - in which Canadians once again distinguished themselves, and suffered terrible losses. Although the death toll did not eclipse that of the Great War, the survivors, nearly one million men and women, still bore the scars of a bloody conflict. And Canadians once again mourned the dead.
The Korean War followed, and it became evident that the prayers of our fathers and mothers wouldn't be answered; war would continue to affect Canada and Canadians, and brave Canadians would continue to die in service of their country.
In the 21st Century, war has taken on a different character, but it is no less war, and no less damaging to those who fight it, and those at home who are affected by it. Canadians mourned publicly as our honoured dead were brought home from Afghanistan, and open their arms to the proud Canadian Forces members who returned, embedding the spirit of remembrance in another generation.
Canada remembers, because there are still conflicts. Heroic men and women go to war for the benefit of Canada and the rest of the world, and some are lost. Would that this did not happen, but until the last war is fought, lest we forget."
Please visit the following link to access the Remembrance Day video message from the Honourable Peter MacKay: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/minister-ministre/video/video-view-voir-eng.asp?id=13
Please visit the following link to access Remembrance Day photos and videos: http://www.combatcamera.forces.gc.ca/site/01/REMDAY12/index-eng.asp