The following is the full text of a speech delivered in Sault Ste. Marie today by Auriele Diotte, a Grade 8 student at Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Pickering, Ontario.
Miss Diotte spoke at the decommissioning service for the Sault Memorial Gardens, about her campaign to create a national day for youth to honour Canadian troops serving overseas.
Auriele and her brother Mathieu were born in Sault Ste. Marie and both of her parents are from our city.
The family moved to the Toronto area in 1996.
********************* Greetings Ladies and Gentlemen! Bonjour Madames et Monsieurs.
It is a privilege and honour to stand before you today.
Thank you Mr. Wallace; Mayor John Rowswell; The Right Honourable Mr. Fitzgerald; The Right Honourable Mr. Martin; The Right Honourable Mr. Orazetti; ministers of the Gospel; members of the Royal Canadian Legion; the wonderful military bands; fellow Canadian students; honoured guests and citizens of the Naturally Gifted Sault Ste. Marie.
It is my pleasure to be with you today.
I am happy to share with you an idea that was birthed out of a fear of war, terror and the tragedies that go with them.
Today, my generation is facing the unknown war.
When I met with my Federal MP Dan McTeague last week, he said that my generation's war will be the war of shadows.
Previously, they used bombs and bullets.
Now they use airplanes and people.
Many are uncertain about the days we live in and wonder - can we make a difference?
Edmund Burke, a politician and writer who lived from 1729 to 1797, once said: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
Today's war is one covered with fear and terrorism.
When my dad spoke to me, he said that we cannot change the past and what has been done.
Neither can we hide from our responsibilities to face the future and deal with present-day issues.
He said war is always a possibility to the generation that thinks only of themselves.
We took a moment to pray, asking for God's help, then dad taught me to take the next step and face this fear by taking the negative and turning it into a positive.
Don't retreat from it but rather deal with it.
So we came up with the idea to encourage the troops we currently have serving in our military.
Fear and terror promote themselves using words and images to scare people.
I learned that encouragement also uses words and images to help people stay strong, full of hope, life and courage so that they may stand up for what is right.
My generation possesses the ability to do just that - encourage the troops we do have right now.
It is from this point that I would like to introduce to you a new generation's campaign to encourage our Canadian Forces by having a C.A.F.É Day!
Cafe is French for coffee - and for the time it takes to have a cup of coffee - one can write a note to the troops.
Now this would not replace November 11, but come alongside of it to complement it.
November 11 is Remembrance Day, whose theme of 'Lest We Forget' continues to be heard all these decades.
It is a time of returning, reflecting and remembering.
We must continue to remember the price that was paid with our own blood.
I also see the need to recognize and appreciate our men and women who serve today, while they are with us.
We have an opportunity to say thank you while they live.
They're sacrificing for us now - the sacrifice began the day they entered the Canadian Forces.
I ask that every young person in Canada lead their schools, families and friends in a time of physically showing appreciation to our men and women who faithfully serve our country, so that we may wake up every day safely to be with our families and friends, to play, study and to grow in peace.
We can do this by sending our pictures and pictures of families and friends, along with a quick note of thanks and encouragement.
The pictures will put real faces before the troops, of the Canadian people they are serving and protecting.
We are also encouraging Canadians everywhere who do not want to send pictures, to still take a moment and send a note to the troops, letting them know you are thinking of them and that they are not alone.
Please take a moment later today to visit our website www.cafeday.ca for further details.
As we unite across this great nation of ours, let's work together to send the message loud and clear to our troops.
Our commitment to you is: "We will remember."
We will remember - your sacrifice for your people!
We will remember - your dedication to your country!
We will remember - your love for your family and friends!
Today with much attention and support given to C.A.F.É Day - Canadians everywhere are preparing to send a note of appreciation to our troops on Monday, April 10.
It is estimated that up to 750 thousand letters will be sent tomorrow - Monday, April 10 to our troops from Canadians everywhere.
The address for the troops is located on the C.A.F.É website at: www.cafeday.ca.
Some say as high as 1 million letters will be sent.
However many do get sent - as one military reporter Angie Zuber, who is stationed in Shilo, Manitoba, - she said to me that: "one letter to one soldier is one more than he or she had yesterday."
There is nothing like hearing a voice from home!
Steps are now being taken to have Parliament write and pass a bill to recognize the first day of Spring every year officially as C.A.F.É Day - a day to be set aside as a nation to send our troops a note of appreciation, thanking them for their daily commitment and sacrifice. Standing on guard for our home and native land - Canada!
Let's work to mark March 21 - the 1st day of Spring, as a time where we join together to keep our troop's hearts aglow with purpose, promise and possibilities of a better, and safer Canada!
On behalf of a new generation of emerging Canadians, I would like to say to the men and women of our Canadian Forces:
We will remember!
We will remember - as you stand on guard for:
1. Our land 2. Our cities 3. And our people
This day we remember!
1. We are free! 2. We are Canadian! 3. And WE ARE CANADA!
Thank you very much! Merci Beaucoup!