November 5, 2014
Remembrance Day is upon us – a time to remember the women and men who have fought for our country, its ideals and our freedoms. We remember their noble and selfless service in conflicts, peacekeeping and reconstruction missions around the world. We also respect and support the contributions of those who wear the uniform today, those who are willing to risk it all to defend what they believe is a just cause and a responsibility of Canada.
This year we remember WO Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, two men who were killed in recent attacks on Canadian soil. The events, a sobering reminder that freedom isn’t free, move us to endeavour to make the world a better, safer and more peaceful place. In Saskatchewan we respond with resolve, we preserve our way of life, our political freedoms, our diversity and our tolerance. In Saskatchewan we stand together, unchanged by these attacks, and refuse to compromise our values or freedoms. In Saskatchewan we will remember.
This year marks the centenary of the beginning of the First World War (1914-1918) and the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.
“Stories of Courage: Saskatchewan Second World War Veterans Remember” is the name of a new video series presenting the oral histories of 17 Saskatchewan residents who served during the Second World War. These eight videos will help future generations gain a sense of what life was like in Saskatchewan during the war, the values that led our country to join in the fight, and why the veterans who shared their stories so readily volunteered to serve. The videos, along with a new teaching guide containing detailed lesson plans for each of the videos, will be placed in the provincial social studies curriculum for teachers to use in the classroom.
There is value in preserving military heritage for present and future generations. Our history as a nation includes those difficult times when we were forced to take up arms and it’s an incomplete picture of our province if we don’t learn about and value these parts of our heritage.
The “Stories of Courage” series can be viewed online at saskatchewan.ca/storiesofcourage/.
Saskatchewan has a strong history of women and men serving with distinction. They have sacrificed a great deal, as have their families. This is why our government introduced the Scholarship of Honour – a $5,000 scholarship available to returning military personnel and to the spouses and children of our Armed Forces Members killed or permanently disabled in the service of their country. Saskatchewan is the only province to offer this type of scholarship. Since the program launched in 2009, 129 scholarships totalling $645,000 have been awarded – 119 to returning service women and men and 10 to children or spouses of members. This scholarship is a small token of gratitude and respect.
Since 1919, the Government of Canada has awarded the Memorial Cross to the loved ones of Canadian Armed Forces personnel who died in service. Recognizing that we are forever indebted to those who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom, our provincial government is, in a small way, honouring these brave service members and their families with a commemorative licence plate that is available to recipients of the Memorial Cross. On November 5, these plates were unveiled and presented to family members at the Saskatchewan Legislature.
The Saskatchewan War Memorial, located on the Legislative Grounds, lists the names of Saskatchewan’s fallen from the First World War, Second World War, Korean War, peacetime operations and the Afghan Mission. The names of the approximately 11,000 soldiers and civilians with ties to Saskatchewan who have perished in these conflicts are enshrined on the memorial.
Remembrance Day is Tuesday, November 11th. If you are able, I strongly encourage you to attend a Remembrance Day service or simply take the time to honour and remember the brave individuals who sacrificed so much for our freedom.