ARCHIVED - 2011 Canadian Fallen Firefighters Memorial Ceremony

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Speaking Notes for the
Honourable Julian Fantino
Associate Minister of National Defence

Ottawa, Ontario
September 11, 2011

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Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, it is an honour to be with you on this solemn occasion.

This morning we once again gather to remember our brave firefighters who have given their lives to protect others. These heroes have faced insurmountable dangers and have answered the call of duty for the last time.

It is our duty to never forget the ultimate sacrifice they have made and to celebrate the lives of these great Canadian heroes.

On behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, and the Government of Canada, I wish to extend deepest condolences to the family and comrades of those who have fallen in the line of duty.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you. May you take comfort in the knowledge that these heroes have left our world a safer and better place through their valour and their dedication to a noble profession.

The many crises that firefighters respond to – from car accidents and natural disasters and fires – are varied in nature, but are never without risk. Firefighters are on the front lines, keeping communities safe and helping Canadians in their time of need.

These courageous individuals, called to serve, put their lives on the line every day. Today we mourn those who did not make it home.

This memorial service today is especially significant – given that it falls on the same day that so many firefighters and first responders lost their lives ten years ago trying to help their fellow citizens in New York.

Among the victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority as well as eight private medical technicians and paramedics.

Their sacrifices and acts of heroism are an inspiration to us all.

On Friday, I had the immense honour of announcing that our government has designated September eleventh as a National Day of Service, in honour of those who perished on that day ten years ago; and in recognition of the outpouring of compassion, generosity and kindness demonstrated by so many Canadians.

This designation is a fitting way to pay tribute to Canadians and others who lost their lives that day.  And it adds significance to this annual ceremony, in which we honour the humanity, courage and sacrifices made by our firefighters every day.  

Over 1,000 Canadian firefighters have lost their lives while serving our country since organized fire services began.

We must keep the memory of these individuals in our hearts. Let us never forget that the safety we enjoy in our daily lives comes at a price – a price the loved ones of those lost in the line of duty know all too well. 

Events such as this ceremony remind us how important firefighters and other emergency management personnel are in protecting Canadians. For us, this is a time of admiration and of thanks.

It is said that “Greater love has no one than this - that he lay down his life for others.” 

No greater sacrifice could be made than the one that was made by the officers we are here to honour today.

When a fire fighter dies in the line of duty, their loss is a loss for us all.

Today we have gathered to show respect for both the memory of those we have lost, and to appreciate the loved ones they leave behind.

Ladies and gentlemen, today's gathering is about remembering some of Canada's finest individuals. And I wish to commend the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation for their outstanding efforts and dedication to preserving the memory of our heroes lost in the line of duty.

You have done wonderful work and continue to honour the spirit of fallen firefighters and serve their families in remarkable ways.

To those of you who have lost loved ones – know that the nation mourns with you. Those who gave their lives will always be remembered. Their bravery is unrivalled, our gratitude boundless.

Thank you.

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