Hon. George Hees (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Senior Citizens)):
Mr. Speaker, as it will be necessary for me to leave tomorrow for Europe to take part in various remembrance services on that continent, representing
October 28, 1987
the Canadian Government there, I would request the indulgence of the House to make a short statement on the meaning and importance of Remembrance Day which is coming up, as we all know, on November 11. I will, of course, be representing the veterans of the country at that Remembrance Day service at eleven o'clock on November 11 here in Ottawa.
On November 11, we will once again have the sacred opportunity to pay silent tribute to the more than 110,000 Canadian men and women who died in the two world wars and in Korea.
Nearly 48,000 of those who died are buried in France, and this year we were reminded twice of the great respect such men and women won for Canada in the battles in that country.
The seventieth anniversary of the capture of Vimy Ridge recalled that triumphant Easter Monday when the brightest and the best of a pioneering generation showed what our young nation could achieve. Those of us who had the privilege to accompany some of those First World War veterans back to Vimy last April were in the presence of nation builders in every sense of the word.
Then, in August, Canadians commemorated the youth of another generation lost in World War II. Dieppe saw all three of our services in battle together for the first time. In spite of this terrible mission, the fact remains that the Canadians involved at Dieppe could not have done more.
Nearly 4,500 Canadians had their hopes and dreams extinguished at Vimy and Dieppe. Thousands more were wounded or taken prisoner, and yet more thousands back home had to learn to cope without a parent, spouse, bread-winner, or other loved one.
For Veterans Affairs every day is Remembrance Day as we help the spouses and dependants of those who did not make it home from the horrors of war.
To me, Mr. Speaker, no words could better express the horror of war and the hope that we will never experience it again than Lt. Col. John McCrae's poem entitled "In Flanders Fields". He wrote the following immortal words:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high,
Statement by Minister
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
Subtopic: COMMEMORATION OF SERVICE MEN AND WOMEN