OFFICE OF THE
Message from the Governor General of Canada on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War
OTTAWA - It is a solemn responsibility for me to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.
When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, many people expected the conflict to be over by Christmas.
That the “war to end all wars,” as it became known, continued for more than four years at a cost of an estimated eight-and-a-half million soldiers killed - as well as tens of millions wounded, physically and mentally - helps to explain why the world pledged “never again” after the Armistice on November 11, 1918.
That the First World War was not, in fact, the war to end all wars also reminds us that peace is never a once-and-for-all achievement, but rather requires our constant care and attention.
This important centenary also allows us an opportunity to honour the sacrifices made by the estimated 425,000 Canadians who served overseas between 1914 and 1918.
Their service contributed to the outcome of the war and to Canada’s emergence as an independent nation.
As governor general and commander-in-chief of Canada, and as a father and grandfather, I encourage all Canadians to reflect upon the dedication of those who served in the First World War and to remember their sacrifices.
In the name and memory of those who fell and were wounded, let us renew our commitment to building a more just and peaceful world.
Today, Canadians join the international community in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, which engulfed Europe in conflict from 1914 to 1918 and killed at least ten million combatants and millions more civilians.
It is a time to remember and honour the sacrifices and tremendous achievements of the more than 650,000 brave Canadians and Newfoundlanders who left their families and the comfort of their homes to serve their King and country, as well as to preserve the universal values of freedom, peace and democracy that we hold most dear.
It is a time to remember the more than 66,000 of our selfless men and women who gave their lives during the First World War, and the estimated 172,000 more who were wounded.
It is a source of deep national pride that the bravery and courage of our service members helped ensure Allied victories in important battles at places like Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Amiens.
These efforts played a vital role in finally bringing about the negotiation and conclusion of the Armistice, which ended the First World War at precisely 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918.
The dedication, courage and determination demonstrated by our brave soldiers, sailors and airmen, who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with like-minded allies to fight for what they believed in, resulted in Canada emerging as a proud, victorious nation with newfound standing in the world.
On this important anniversary, let us recall and honour our heroes who put their lives on the line during the First World War so that right would prevail and so that Canadians and other peoples would have the opportunity to live in peace and freedom.
Let us also extend our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to all members of the Canadian Armed Forces and their families - past and present - who courageously serve our great country with the same proud Canadian tradition.
Lest we forget.