Well good morning, guests, veterans, ladies and gentlemen, it's a distinct privilege to be with you today.
"Do this in remembrance of me": these are the famous words, of course uttered by Jesus at the Last Supper on the eve of his own death, and they are the inspiration for the act of remembrance that is now observed in the Commonwealth and in other places around the world.
At this hour, Jesus had a particular kind of remembering in mind, and so did the leaders who proposed this memorial in 1919. It is to remember, not just in terms of information recall, like a Polaroid picture in our heads,
but remembering the lives of men and women in such a way that we're inspired to fresh courage and hope for tomorrow. And you certainly don't have to be religious to understand that kind of remembering.
For some of us this day brings particular people to mind: grandparents, great-grandparents, or others who fought in World Wars 1 and 2, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, the Balkans, Afghanistan, and in maybe one of 50 of our peacekeeping missions since World War II.
In my three years in the Middle East, as a much younger man, I got to know another young man who was so alive to helping others that he was willing to brave the gauntlet of the "snipers' alley" in Beirut daily. One day I got to come home and he never did. Then years later, while living in Moose Jaw, I had the privilege of serving as a duty chaplain at the NATO training facility there, and one of the Hungarian pilots' sons became the best friend of one of my sons. Then one day the news: the young father killed in a training mission. It is this kind of reality that makes this annual occasion so poingnant and powerful.
Today we remember the sacrifice of men and women who were alive, and wanted to live, who wanted to live with so much vigour that they were willing to go to different difficult places and exhibit extraordinary courage so that this world might indeed be a better place. Today we hallow the memory of those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom.
We also remember those wounded in body, and/or in mind. We hallow their memory in this service by taking time in the middle of our day to be here. We also hallow their memory with more difficulty, when we leave this communion with them, determined to ensure that their sacrifice was not in vain. By determining to take practical steps to give back to our community, our province and our country.
May we have the courage to live not just for ourselves, but for this nation's and this world's future, believing that we are called not merely to inhabit it, to take up space, but to shape it for the better. If we can now imagine all of their voices, I think we would hear the ones we honour today say, "Do that in remembrance of me".
Thank you, and God bless Canada.