Lest We Forget: these three words holds so much meaning for all Canadians from all walks of life, but especially at this time of year during this time of Remembrance. On the 11th day, of the 11th month, around the 11th hour, we gather to remember. We gather at the Legion and the cenotaphs, in schools and churches. We come together to remember the sacrifices made by those brave men and women who have served our country with pride and distinction, and those who have paid the ultimate price for that service.
This Remembrance Day in particular marks a watershed moment in the history of Canada’s Armed Forces and for our proud veterans of all Canadian conflicts. This will be the first Remembrance Day in history in which no Canadian veteran from the First World War is still with us on this Earth. You may remember that back on February 18th of this year, Canada’s last living First World War veteran, John Babcock, passed away at the age of 109. With his passing, we lost our last participant and witness to the carnage and valour that marked the war that was supposed to end all wars.
This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Canadian Navy. After some intense and heated debate amongst the parliamentarians of the day, on May 4, 1910 the Naval Services Act was passed and the Canadian Navy was born. Since that time this branch of Canada’s Armed Forces has grown from the “tin pot navy”, as opponents of its creation dubbed it at the time, to a strong force that has sent to sea no less than 850 warships under a naval ensign.
There are 26 Naval Reserve divisions all across Canada, including Northern Ontario’s only division. HMCS Griffon was established at the beginning of the Second World War in Port Arthur, operating out of a leased garage before a proper barracks were built in 1943. Throughout the Second World War, the division recruited and trained volunteers enlisted in the Canadian Navy. Shipyards in the city would build thirty corvettes and minesweepers for the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Navy over the course of the war and HMCS Griffon became home to the commissioning crews for these ships. More than 2400 officers and non-commissioned members enlisted into the Canadian Navy through HMCS Griffon.
Our proud naval tradition continues today, as our Navy operates all around the World in many different capacities. Abroad in dangerous areas or close to home in Canadian water, working with our partner nations or alone, the members of Canada’s Navy are serving us today with distinction and valour. Every day they are showing the World the best of what we are as Canadians.
This Thursday, I invite you to join in the many ceremonies all around the riding of Thunder Bay – Rainy River. I invite you to gather with your friends, family and neighbours, to remember those who have made that sacrifice in the name of our country, to thank those who are still with us for their service to Canada and to thank those who continue to serve Canada with distinction.
John Rafferty MP