Prime Minister Trudeau delivers remarks honouring fallen soldiers at the Beechwood Cemetery
Hello everyone. Thank you for being here. Thanks to the students of St. John Paul II Catholic School, the No Stone Left Alone Foundation, General Vance, Minister Sajjan, Parliamentary Secretary Romanado, parliamentarians and distinguished guests, but especially to you, distinguished veterans, soldiers, guests, families and friends.
We are gathered here today at Beechwood Cemetery to pay tribute to our fallen veterans. We lay poppies at the graves of brave Canadians and remember their service and their sacrifice.
Among the many battles that have faced our brave soldiers over the years, today specifically I want us to think of the fathers and sons, brothers and friends who were lost at Passchendaele 100 years ago. Sixteen thousand Canadians killed or wounded, thousands of Canadian families forever changed.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Battle of Passchendaele was devastating for the Allies. And yet, it was a campaign that remains to this day a major moment in the First World War, a moment very much worth remembering. It was an ongoing battle characterized by incremental gains and monumental losses. Historians see it as proof of reckless leadership -- reckless leadership that saw our soldiers subjected to the harshest of conditions and the horrors of a near impossible battle... a futile, demoralizing advance through mud, rain, flooded trenches and an onslaught of shell fire.
One veteran, Arthur Turner, characterized the Battle of Passchendaele as one of the muddiest and bloodiest of the First World War. Many Canadian battalions were hit by extreme loss.
And still, we remember this battle with pride as we think of our brave soldiers who fought an impossible fight with perseverance, valour, and a commitment to a greater cause.
These are precisely the qualities that over the years have come to characterize the men and women who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. They serve our country with unmatched integrity and represent us proudly on the world stage. Canadian soldiers, past and present, have long and generously defended our values. We are grateful to them and we are filled with admiration for them.
And just as our servicemen and women take care of us, so too must we take care of them. It is our sacred duty as a country to be there for our heroes when they need us most. And we will be there.
This year we’ve spent time celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation. It gives us reason to pause and reflect on some of our most important military milestones, successes, and failures. And in keeping the memories of battles like Passchendaele, Hill 70, Vimy and Dieppe alive, we remind this generation and future generations where their freedom comes from, for it was not granted. It was earned. Lest we forget.