Veterans Week Vignettes
Ottawa, ON – November 14, 2014
Guy Parent, Veterans Ombudsman:
Veterans Week for me started at the Senate Chamber on Sunday, November 2nd where a solemn ceremony to open Veteran`s Week took place. It was well organized and the speech from the Minister of Veterans Affairs was engaging. He mentioned the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of some of the Second World War campaigns, including the Italian campaign where the Minister, as a child in Italy, saw firsthand the arrival of allied troops.
On November 4th, I attended the Ottawa Veteran`s Candlelight Tribute Ceremony co-hosted by the Mayor of Ottawa and the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Every year this vigil reinforces the message of legacy by the symbolic passage of candles from Veterans to young people who pledge to hold the torch and never forget. This year was significant also because for the first time since the event started, a woman Veteran, Helen Rapp, had an Ottawa street named after her to recognize her work and dedication in assisting others throughout the Veterans’ community.
On November 11th, my wife and I attended the Remembrance Ceremony at the Field of Honour in Pointe Claire, Quebec. As the guest of honour this year, I had the privilege of speaking to those gathered about Canada’s contribution to the First World War. I emphasized how the sacrifice of the thousands of Canadians and Newfoundlanders who died as a result of the War have shaped our nation and maintained a Canada strong and free. It was particularly significant that the Officer Cadets of the Royal Military College were the military unit forming the Guard of Honour. This was a wonderful way to connect the past with the present and the future.
Marie-Claude Gagné, Manager, Communications Operations:
I had a full range of emotions last Tuesday when I had the priviledge of representing the Veterans Ombudsman at the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa. What an honour it was for me to lay a wreath at the National War Memorial, especially as I am a Canadian Veteran. During my 20 years of service in the Navy, I attended this ceremony several times – sometimes as a participant, other times as an observer – but regardless of my role, the ceremony has always been an emotional one for me, as I’m sure it is for many people.
The Remembrance Day ceremony makes me proud to have served my country and represented Canada’s interests abroad. Sadness, of course, is the emotion that closely follows pride on Remembrance Day as I am fully aware of the price that those who have gone before have paid to defend Canadian values and freedom. I am eternally grateful to both those who have served our country in the past and those who continue to serve it today. Canadians are forever indebted to them and their families for their sacrifices.
As I looked around at the sea of people, Veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP, I also noticed many law enforcement officers and other first responders. It reminded me of how important it is for us to show them our appreciation because they too risk their lives every time they put on their uniform.
Michel Guay, Director, Corporate Services:
This year, I had the honour of representing the Veterans Ombudsman at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Charlottetown, PEI. After 37 years in the Air Force, Remembrance Day services are always very meaningful to me and this year’s was especially poignant after the loss of two of our soldiers – Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl Nathan Cirillo – in the days leading up to November 11th.
It was heartening to see Canadians turning out in higher numbers than ever before to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Lest we forget.
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