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Senator Campbell, Senator Nolin, Mr. Arthur Gomez, Mr. Ron Taylor, Hong Kong Veterans, Commemorative members, and honoured guests.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of all 38 members of the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association’s delegation when I say that the past few days in the company of our Hong Kong Veterans has been an incredibly moving experience.
We have enjoyed their company in the more relaxed moments this week and we have been proud to see the honour paid them, not only by the children of the Canadian International School of Hong Kong in performing for them at Sai Wan Cemetery, but in the heartfelt emotions displayed by the high school students from Durham Region in Ontario as they read from the works they submitted for inclusion in the Memorial capsule.
We are delighted that these six Hong Kong veterans can represent the 156 veterans still living, as well as those who are no longer with us, in being recognized as the heroes they are, no longer the "forgotten heroes" but living examples of the courage and determination of those who fought in the battle for Hong Kong 65 years ago. Their brothers in arms would surely approve.
We are grateful for the willingness of Veterans Affairs, under the leadership of Mr. Derek Sullivan, Director of the Canada Remembers Division, to facilitate the organization of this week’s events in such a caring fashion. He has provided an expert team, financial support and willing partners in Hong Kong itself – the Consular staff and those representing the Royal Hong Kong Regiment (RHKR) The Volunteers to ensure that the week’s events have been as meaningful and pleasurable as possible.
And we must not forget to thank Mike Babin, whose dedication to this project has been unswerving from the beginning. He has kept the Commemorative participants well-informed over the past few months, allaying their concerns and offering well-reasoned and well-organized information along the way - making for a most relaxed and worry-free situation. Mike, we do appreciate all you have done to make this week a most memorable one.
I must tell you that Mike will be taking on my role as Regional Director of the HKVCA in Ontario at the end of this month and members can certainly be assured that the Ontario Region of HKVCA is in good hands.
Finally, on a personal note, I feel that it has been a special privilege to be part of this unique gathering. The six Hong Kong veterans who are present here will always have a very special place in my heart, and the hearts of those Commemorative members and friends who have shared this special week with them.
I have worked closely with three of the six veterans who are present and all three, in very special ways, have been an inspiration to me. My sincere thanks to "Flash" Clayton, George MacDonell and Phil Doddridge….and Ed Shayler – I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to get to know you better. As my father’s Sergeant, you and he had a very special bond, and I am grateful for the opportunity of understanding his situation better through you.
On behalf of the Commemorative members and all those present tonight, may I salute all six of our Hong Kong veterans. They have, by their example, shown our generation and the generations to come, the strength of the human spirit in overcoming adversity. For that we are truly grateful.