Seventy five years ago next month, in December 1941, a thousand Canadians stood in defence of a small city off the China coast. More than half would suffer death or injury, and those who survived would go on only to capture, and often to torture.
In the Battle of Hong Kong, a multinational force including more than two battalions of soldiers from across Canada would ultimately fall to invasion. It was Canada’s first action in the Second World War and a grim promise of the violence to follow until hostilities ended in 1945.
I write this message to you from the Hong Kong of 2016, where I’m leading our annual delegation to visit our incredible alumni and partners throughout the region. This Hong Kong is a dynamic, open, and progressive city that serves as one of the key financial and innovation hubs for all East Asia. I can hardly imagine the horrors that befell this beautiful community all those years ago.
But it’s important to try. Our commitment to acknowledging the awesome pain of armed conflict is essential to preserving the peace for our generation and those to come.
On November 13, when Remembrance Day is observed in Hong Kong, I will lay a wreath for the University of Waterloo at the Hong Kong Cenotaph. Here, the names of thousands of Canadian and allied service personnel are etched in stone and on the hearts of all who gather to celebrate liberty, and the cost of it.
We will silently acknowledge those Canadians who fell here for freedom, whom "age shall not weary, nor the years condemn." Today, I ask and encourage you also to think silently upon those who gave their lives — whether in the World Wars, Korea, Afghanistan, or peacekeeping operations around the globe — so we could live ours free.
Today and always, we will remember them.
For those interested in participating, there will be a Remembrance Day interfaith service in the Great Hall of the Student Life Centre at 10:45 a.m., on November 11, 2016.