Thank you, Rodney Johnson for that introduction. Thank you to everybody.
Greetings to Consul-General Prato, Consuls-General Danny Lopez and Phillip Scanlan, to Senator Pamela Wallin, to Commissioner William Castro, to Victor Stewart, to members of our protective services and of course to family and friends of those whose memory is honoured here today.
As Prime Minister of Canada it is my honour to accept the offer to include in this beautiful place an official commemoration of the Canadians whose lives were taken so cruelly ten years ago today.
On behalf of the people of Canada, I thank Her Majesty The Queen, and I thank Mr. Stewart, Mr. Johnson and the officers and directors of the Trust, for this gracious gesture. We warmly welcome the decision to also include here other Commonwealth countries, and we support wholeheartedly the plan to rename this garden The Queen Elizabeth II Garden, to reflect this decision.
It is fitting that the Canadians who perished on 9/11 should be remembered here, alongside the Britons, Australians and other Commonwealth citizens who were also killed in that atrocity.
In the global conflicts of the past century, our countries have been champions of freedom together. On September 11, 2001, together we were attacked by the enemies of freedom.
Their primary targets that day were our American cousins. But as we have seen in London, Bali, Madrid, Mumbai – and, let us not forget, Toronto, where the plotters were thwarted – we are, all of us, in their sights. All of us, but especially innocent civilians – and it is the innocent whom we honour here today.
To you who mourn their loss most profoundly, to their family and friends, I offer my respect and condolences, and my hope that you find on this day at this place and in this ceremony some measure of comfort.
At your initiative, we are pleased to have designated this day in Canada as a National Day of Service. Just as Canadians welcomed American travellers grounded on that terrible day, just as both countries remember still these acts of simple decency, let us take this solemn anniversary as an inspiration to serve selflessly, to do good for those around us.
In the shadow of the evil of September 11, 2001, we must not forget our capacity for goodness, and our knowledge of what is right, which is written in the hearts of all men.
Yes, on September 11, 2001, lives were taken, in an act of heartlessness beyond words. But in response, lives were given, freely, nobly, in acts of courage beyond compare. Brave Canadians, in the company of other heroes among our friends and allies, have made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. They have helped ensure that that country is no longer a safe haven for those who plot to kill the innocent half a world away.
Let us honour our fallen countrymen also, in our reflections today. Let us offer our praise and thanks to their colleagues, and to our law enforcement and intelligence personnel and to the countless others who work each day to keep us safe. And let us renew our resolve that no more dates on the calendar should become a symbol of the wounding of a nation.
For if we are to honour the innocent, we must not only remember them. We must remain vigilant – to protect all those they left behind, to thwart all those who would do them harm.
This unceasing effort is our government’s most solemn duty. Together with our friends and allies, we are committed to carrying out that duty, in the hope of a more secure and peaceful world.