I don't know war.
I don't know the fear of cracking gunfire, the screech of rubber wheels of heavy tanks, the sound of a missile roaring above me. I sleep soundly at night, I go to school each day without fear. In my seventeen years of life, I have never known oppression. All of this, all my freedom, is thanks to you.
You who don the crimson cap, who carry our flag high. You who wield a weapon not to kill, but to protect. You who work whether under scorching sun or fluorescent light, in cracked plains or laboratories, to protect the values - and people - we all hold dear. Our sisters and brothers, or wives and husbands, our children and friends who serve the armed forces - whoever you may be, we thank you.
You work towards a common goal, whether you are black or white, male or female, speaking French or English under the same proud flag. You fight not with malice or hatred but with heart. You shoulder the great and terrible burden of your loved one's tears when you risk so much, and though it may hurt, it is also perhaps the ultimate display of love. You are willing to risk your life for them, for us. Words are hardly an adequate offering for everything you give us, and I only hope I can express the depth of my own and the gratitude of hundreds of others like myself. Thank you, and merci.
You teach us to be proud of our country, to respect ourselves and our neighbors. You teach us how to grieve, how to understand the meaning behind every pounding footstep in your united march. You teach us courage,
not simple bravery but strength in the face of adversary. Wherever you are, thank you.
More than what I do not hear or see, I am grateful for what I do. I hear birds on trees that reach into an open sky. I see clean streets and streetlights that let me walk safely under the moon. I see children playing in fields without fear of what may be underneath them. You who sacrifice these things, even temporarily, to protect them back home - thank you. Whether I am seventeen or seventy, my safety is thanks to you. Whenever you may fight, whether in the wars of our past or against injustice to come, thank you.
And to those of you who have already made the greatest sacrifice, who have travelled the Highway of Heroes, may you rest with the knowledge of what you have done. May you know the people you love are grateful, and more - your country is grateful. Canada, from its great mountain peaks to the sweet green oceans, mourns you. May we, as a people, as a nation, as a family, never forget what you have done for us. Living or dead, we thank you.
To the families of those passed on, the sisters of patriots, the wives of veterans, thank you, too. Your pain is great, but together, perhaps we can bear it. Your sorrow is not in vain, never will be futile. No matter who fought, who you grieve or miss and whether it was decades ago or yesterday, know it was never a hopeless battle.
Hope - this is above all what you bring us, all of you. Hope for our children, hope for a bright future. Hope that we may never know the terrible sounds and screams of war. Hope that someday, the world will share our dream, that together we may conquer not each other but fear and oppression.
East and West, across valleys and deserts, we - families, peoples, Canada - raise our flag. We thank you.