OTTAWA, Nov. 5, 2012 /CNW/ - The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate of Canada, the Honourable Andrew Scheer, Speaker of the House of Commons, and the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, officially launched Veterans' Week 2012 today during a ceremony held in the Senate Chamber. Participants in the ceremony also marked the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
"Today we gather in the Senate Chamber on Parliament Hill to launch the 2012 Veterans' Week. The wreath that is laid symbolizes the respect of all Canadians toward the brave men and women who have served our country with heroism and sacrifice" said Speaker Kinsella. "This year, we give focus to one exemplary triumph, namely the Battle of Passchendaele."
Speaker Scheer stated, "I join with all parliamentarians in remembering and saluting our heroic Veterans and Canadian Armed Forces personnel for all they have done and continue to do for our great country."
Every year, Canadians celebrate Veterans' Week from November 5 to 11. During this week, hundreds of commemorative ceremonies and events take place across the country to remember the achievements of our Veterans and to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"The Government of Canada is dedicated to commemorating the sacrifices and achievements of the brave Canadians whose legacy is the peace and security we continue to enjoy today," said Minister Blaney. "Veterans' Week is a time when all Canadians come together to honour those who have sacrificed to make our world a safer place."
This year's Senate ceremony focused on Canada's role in the Third Battle of Ypres, better known as the Battle of Passchendaele that took place during the First World War. This battle still resonates today for many Canadians as an example of perseverance, bravery and sacrifice. Canada lost more than 4,000 soldiers in the fighting and 12,000 more were wounded.
The grueling Battle of Passchendaele resulted in the capture of the village of Passchendaele and the surrounding ridge, with the muddy struggle finally drawing to a close on November 10, 1917. It occupies an important place in our country's military history, as the Canadian Corps' success there further added to the glowing reputation of our men and women. This bravery and heroic determination was recognized with nine Victoria Crosses being awarded to Canadian soldiers who participated in the bitter battle.
In attendance at the ceremony were Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces personnel and cadets. The Ottawa Children's Choir performed during the ceremony, and youth participating in Encounters with Canada read citations for three Canadian Victoria Cross recipients who fought in the Battle of Passchendaele.
Today, all Canadian Veterans of the Battle of Passchendaele and the First World War have passed away. The torch of remembrance has now been passed to all Canadians, especially our younger generations, to remember the extraordinary feats accomplished by Canadians in uniform to help regain peace.
Minister Blaney will participate in several commemorative events during Veterans' Week, including the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial, to highlight the importance of remembrance and the continued support for Canadian Veterans.
"During Veterans' Week, we are encouraging Canadians to take time to remember by attending a Remembrance Day ceremony, visiting a local cenotaph or monument, sharing their thoughts of remembrance online, or wearing a poppy with pride," said Minister Blaney.
Learn more and find remembrance events and activities in your area at veterans.gc.ca.
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
Image with caption: "The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, launched Veterans' Week at the annual Senate Ceremony on November 5, 2012. The ceremony focused on the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele and the nine Victoria Crosses awarded to soldiers (CNW Group/Veterans Affairs Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20121105_C4792_PHOTO_EN_20209.jpg