OFFICE OF THE
Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the National Day of Honour
Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday issued the following statement after participating in events marking the National Day of Honour, which commemorated and recognized Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan:
Throughout our history, Canadians have fought tyranny and evil around the world because it was the right thing to do.
Much has changed since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Towers on 9/11.
In response to those attacks, which killed thousands of civilians including 24 Canadians, the Government of Canada stood steadfast beside our Allies and responded swiftly to these deadly acts of terrorism.
For the last 12 years, more than 40,000 brave men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, along with hundreds of courageous Canadian civilians, have fought to help Afghans make their country a more stable, secure and self-reliant place to live, free from the yoke of terrorists and oppressors.
Our Canadian Armed Forces fought extremely well in Kandahar, arguably the most dangerous province in Afghanistan.
The ingenuity, spirit and strength of our men and women has made a difference in one of the most violent and dangerous parts of the world.
Their accomplishments and attributes have given Afghans the opportunity to build on the work of these brave Canadians in order to build a better life for themselves.
Their contributions are celebrated by Afghans, by our Allies, and of course by Canadians here at home.
Too often in the past our Armed Forces have returned to Canada from their trials with little fanfare. Not so today.
Canadians across the country came out in force, united in appreciation, to honour the bravery, heroism, strength and sacrifice of those who fought for freedom and security in Afghanistan.
The entire country watched with tremendous pride as the Veterans of this mission marched in the Commemoration Parade.
We honoured those wounded by lining up in communities throughout Ontario and in Gatineau, Quebec, to watch the Soldier On Afghanistan Relay, and we were somber during the two minutes of silence marking a special tribute to the fallen and their families.
I had the honour of paying tribute to the Families of the Fallen in a private ceremony and to hear first-hand how these remarkable individuals touched their families, friends and the entire country.
When the last Canadian flag that flew at NATO’s International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, was handed to me, it was a deeply emotional moment.
It reminded me of the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice that Canadians had endured to make Afghanistan a better place; a place where a little girl could go to school, a place where a mother might have medicine for her child, and a place where a woman could vote.
Most importantly, the entire day, with its outpouring of love and affection for our troops, reminded me that a loving and proud nation was welcoming its military home, with open arms, after a job so well done.
To ensure that their contributions are forever in the hearts and minds of Canadians, our Government recently announced that we will create a national memorial to those who served in Afghanistan, in addition to making a new inscription to commemorate the mission onto our existing National War Memorial.
We will also be renaming ‘La Promenade Building’ in Ottawa to ‘The Valour Building’ in honour of their strength and service. I am also pleased to be announcing today that eligible units of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Special Operations Forces who played key roles in Afghanistan have been bestowed with the Arabian Sea or the Afghanistan Theatre Honour.
It is a testimony to the national effort that characterized this mission that every major Canadian Army regular and reserve infantry and armoured regiment that sent soldiers to Afghanistan has been awarded the Afghanistan Theatre Honour.
As they have done in so many previous conflicts, all of these units have defended Canada and served their country and fellow citizens well.
God Bless the Canadian Armed Forces and their families and keep them safe.