HoC Statement on Remembrance Day: Our prayer is always for peace

Elizabeth May

Mr. Speaker, I thank all my colleagues this morning for this moment of remembrance. We will all be in our ridings on Remembrance Day attending events with our communities.

As the hon. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has so beautifully conjured for us the event he will attend in his riding, all of us will be at familiar places, our town centres and our cenotaphs, gathering with our veterans. As the minister reminded us, sometimes we notice that someone we saw last year is no longer with us.

One of the war veterans and heroes I have the privilege to know in my own community of Sidney is Charles “Chic” Goodman, who was one of the few Canadians to receive the medal of honour from the French government, the French Legion of Honour medal, for his role in D-Day. I just received a note from his wife, saying that he was feeling fine but thought the march was too much for him this year. She asked me if I could meet them later to have a cup of tea at the naval club, which I will.

I have come to know a wonderful gentleman named Ken Curry, who fought at Dieppe. Ken was too young to enrol in the military and lied about his age. When it came time to be sent overseas, he needed a note from his mother. He went to Dieppe and as the carnage occurred all around him, he wondered why he had asked his mother to send that note.

So many brave men and women continue to go into dangerous places to protect that community centre, that cenotaph, that village, that place they know. Increasingly, Canadians are called to go to places where the connection between our safety and security at home and the dangerous places they go, whether in Afghanistan or elsewhere, have been more tenuous.

My thoughts turn today to Trevor Greene, who now lives in Nanaimo. He was the Canadian officer who, in a show of respect, in meeting with elders in the Taliban, took off his helmet and was attacked from behind with an axe. Trevor Greene struggles every day and fights every day to walk again. He has enormous courage and always says that he wishes that when he first enrolled, he could have worn the blue beret. He sees his role as someone who defends Canada, as someone who wants to make and keep the peace.

In that spirit, I want to remind all members that this building was built after one of the most devastating of wars, the First World War, which took so many young lives. It was supposed to be the war to end all wars. In that moment of armistice, the initial thought for Parliament, as it was being rebuilt after the fire, was that the central architectural feature, the tower, be called the war tower. Then members changed their minds and decided it should be called the Peace Tower.

As we remember and honour all those who fought, who served, who died, who came home shattered, who came home only to later take their own lives, and all the horrors of war, our prayer is always for that name on the central tower of this building. Our prayer is always for peace.