CFB BORDEN, Ont. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helped unveil Canada’s newest war monument on Thursday in a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the country’s largest military base.
Speaking in bright sunshine before hundreds of dignitaries, armed forces personnel and members of the public, Trudeau praised the efforts of veterans, those who have died in battle, and those who currently serve.
Canada and Canadians have earned respect around the world, he said, not just because we are polite or friendly and peaceable.
“The reason the world pays heed to Canada is because we fought like lions in the trenches of World War I, on the beaches of World War II, and in theatres and conflicts scattered around the globe,” Trudeau said.
“We showed our ability to stand for our values, and fight and sacrifice for them in faraway places.”
With the pomp and ceremony befitting the occasion, “sacred soil” from the First World War battle of Vimy Ridge brought back to Canada last year was placed in an opening in the new memorial wall to serve as a permanent reminder of, and tribute to, those whose blood drenched the killing fields in France 99 years ago.
“We remember their courage and their sacrifice with a memorial that, like the resolve of Canadians themselves, survived a second world war,” Trudeau said.
“Nearly a century after their loss, Canada remembers and continues to mourn.”
The monument — a nine-metre polished black and white granite wall along with a bronze statue of a bugler nearby — forms the ceremonial northern entrance to Canadian Forces Base Borden near, Barrie, Ont.
The project was designed by Canadian artist and sculptor Marlene Hilton Moore. Funds for the monument were largely raised locally.
About two million military personnel have trained at Borden over the past century and about 20,000 more soldiers, sailors and airmen train at the base every year.
Trudeau said the country was in the process of reinvigorating its role as peacekeepers and stepping up its efforts to engage constructively with the rest of the world.
“Canada is committed to playing our part, indeed, to continue to punch well above our weight,” the prime minister said.