Friday, May 07, 2010

Eloquent words from Prime Minister Harper

This is one of the best speeches he's ever given, and I'm proud to share it with you here.

Excerpts of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Netherlands speech

I'd like to welcome Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, it is much appreciated that you would take the time to join us here today.

Mayor (Han) Polman (Mayor of Bergen op Zoom) Gen. (Walter) Natynczyk. It's also a pleasure to have B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell here with us.
It is my profound honour on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians to greet you today 

To greet you here, at this place of solemn remembrance, where the intense sadness of a distant time is lifted by our deepest national pride. One does not measure the worth of a man in gold, nor the legacy of a country in centuries.

Certainly, our beloved Canada is not ancient among the nations.

However, by their actions, our forefathers have decided this for the generations that came after them:

They have decided that our priceless heritage should be one of standing on guard not only for our country, but for the underlying principles that make it great: freedom, democracy and justice.

Thus it was at Vimy, more than 90 years ago, when Canadians stood firm against imperialism.
And thus it was in 1944, the year the First Canadian Army tore this land from the tyrant's fist.

This army, more than 175,000 Canadians reinforced by Dutch and allied forces, fought its way from Normandy to Rotterdam, field by field, canal by canal, dike by daunting dike. They crossed deep, boot-sucking mud. They passed over ground heavily mined. They navigated flooded lowlands, the water sometimes too high to wade through, but too shallow for boats.

And around them, and before them always, the dreadful rattle of the machine-gun.

More than seven and a half thousand Canadians gave their lives so that the people of the Netherlands could live again. Here, in the Bergen-op-Zoom war cemetery, 968 of them rest forever.

A skeptic would ask why?

These Canadians did not fight for their country's gain. It was not for the sake of our power in the world, for the riches of our citizens, or even hatred of the foe they faced.

No, this army of Canadians fought then for the only thing their country fights to this day -- that which is right.

For the right of human beings to share in the freedom and peace that we as Canadians enjoy. For that alone, Canadians have answered the call.

And for that, we are eternally proud.

Ladies and gentlemen, when the living come to salute the dead, our words speak loudest to those whose lives still lay ahead of them.

In this, the age-old act of remembrance, we gather not to call out a requiem, for those for whom we speak it are not here.

Their gallant souls are long departed, gone ... to a place far gentler, of which it is said: "There shall be no more death, Neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain."

No, they shall rest in peace.

We have come together to greet their comrades, while yet we may, and to declare to new generations that, in such a place as this, you may understand how our land, Canada, gives birth to greatness.

Would you know what heroism is? Look here.

Would you know what it means to be a citizen? Look here.

Would you, a lifetime awaiting you, know how you should live? Then look here, and look about you. 

Where only heroes rest.

Yes, my friends, in a place such as this, surrounded by the graves of so many brave young souls, the past speaks wordlessly to the future.

In the face of such deeds, words seem small acknowledgment.

Nevertheless, to those remaining members of this once-mighty army here with us today, we say thank you. We salute you. And, we honour you,

You, and those of your comrades who lie around you here.

We honour too, our Dutch hosts. The bonds of our friendship were forged under fire, bonds that have been reinforced ever since in so many ways.

Let me name just two.

First, our comradeship in arms in Afghanistan these past few years, where together our countries have continued to uphold our highest ideals.

And then, every spring in our nation's capital, there is the eternal celebration, of our friendship, christened by the gift of your beautiful tulips.

They are a reminder that, during the war, it was our country's privilege to offer shelter to members of the Dutch Royal Family.

And, at this very moment, they bloom triumphantly.

We owe the dead only this. To now live as nobly as they died. 

We shall remember them.


Anonymous said...

You're right. This is most inspiring.
Thanks for highlighting it on your blog.

Roy Eappen said...

Anonymous said...

Brief, eloquent and to the point. And they say Obama is eloquent.

Anne in sw ON said...

Thankyou, Hatrock. Our Prime Minister speaks from his heart and fills me with pride.

Anonymous said...

Yes - truly beautiful.